The Ultimate Guide to Prescription Drug Abuse

The Ultimate Guide to Prescription Drug Abuse: The Problems and Solutions

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  • LEARN MORE  about how every 4 minutes someone is sent to treatment
  • HELP STOP  doctor shopping and diversion
  • DISCOVER  how the current administration says it will reduce drug use by 15%

Why Do Government Systems Always Fail Us?

The faults of HealthCare.gov are still fresh in the memory.  The rollout was a complete mess. And while the government is trying to claim fixes in the system, and an easier registration process, the damage cannot be truly undone.  At least to this point, its greatest legacy has been a botched rollout.

Really though, HealthCare.gov isn’t even the worst product from the federal government, not by a long shot.

It is just one of a long string of information technology debacles by the federal government.

According to the research firm the Standish Group, 94 percent of large federal information technology projects over the past 10 years were unsuccessful.

That means that they were delayed, over budget,  didn’t meet user expectations, or simply failed completely.

Let’s look at some examples:

Sam.gov, a system for government contractors developed by I.B.M. that started in 2012, has cost taxpayers $181 million and is just now beginning to work as expected.

Before that, a new version of USAJobs.gov landed with a thud, after years of development and millions of dollars down the drain.

In 2001, the F.B.I. started a virtual case file system. They dumped the project, renamed it, hired new vendors to build it, and after a mere 12 years, the “Sentinel” finally came to fruition.

For some reason though, Healthcare.gove seems more frustrating than others. Perhaps because we had higher expectations for this administration when it comes to technology, especially in light of a great campaign website.  Perhaps our own technological advancements have improved markedly in the last 10 years.

This latest failure is frustrating for us to watch. Our careers have largely been about developing technology that allows more people to participate in the way we finance, support and elect candidates for public office. Together, we’ve done things that transformed elections, but we now need that work to carry into transforming government.

These frustrations shouldn’t be surprising though.  It is the difference between private solutions and public solutions. When we think of private solutions, we have images of young, intelligent, entrepreneurs creating breakthrough IT applications on a bootstrap budget.  As for public solutions, we think of bloated, entrenched vendors demanding huge paydays and delivering underperforming services.

Government contracting is a mess.  full of large, entrenched vendors providing subpar services. Howard Dean changed that by reaching out to a new breed of Internet-savvy companies and staffers (including one of us). In 2012, Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney thanks in part to a mix of private-sector-trained technology workers and a well-developed ecosystem of technologies available from competitive consultants.

Much of the problem has to do with code called the Federal Acquisition Regulation. It is over 1,800 pages of legalese that all but ensure that the companies that win government contracts are those that can navigate the regulations best.  Government vendor companies have become adroit at filling out convoluted paperwork, but not necessarily at building great products.  

Silicon Valley company can produce a worldwide search engine with just two grad students in a garage.  The government, however, produces something like HealthCare.gov, which leaves everyone frustrated and confused. Unsurprisingly, it was created by one the largest of the largest vendors, CGI Federal, which blamed everyone but itself when asked to explain the botched rollout of the Web site.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

The same issue is happening with Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, or PDMPs. These are the systems responsible for tracking the flow of prescription drugs from hospitals to pharmacies, in an effort to prevent prescription drug abuse.

However, like most government solutions, they are bloated systems, poorly built, ineffective, and out of the budget. Every single state is responsible for creating its own PDMP, so no single system is able to communicate with the other.

There is no mandate to actually use the systems, so physicians can simply ignore them if they choose to.  In the state of California, the CURES system is only used by 5% of all physicians, and there is only one employee trying to manage the system.

Just like Heathcare.gov, the biggest losers are the American people.  Prescription drugs continue to be abused, doctor shoppers abound, and we are none the wiser.

If we want real results, we need better systems.  That means private systems. We need real results, not more excuses.

A comprehensive and systematic approach to addiction treatment

17 people die from prescription drug overdoses every day in the United States.

Drug deaths from opioid abuse increased for the 12th consecutive year.

Clearly we are in the midst of an epidemic.

Which is why it is encouraging to hear when acute care hospitals take an active position in preventing opioid overdoses.  And create a comprehensive and systematic approach to addiction treatment.

It was recently announced that Massachusetts General Hospital will spend $1.4 million on a new addiction and treatment program to conduct universal patient drug and alcohol screening.

Not only that, but Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts recently declared an opioid public health emergency.

He asked the Legislature for help with three lifesaving strategies:

1)  Make sure that first responders, pharmacies and friends and family members of individuals at risk of overdose have access to Naloxone.

2)  Educate physicians about safe prescribing practices and how to use the prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP).

3)  Improve access to drug treatment for all Massachusetts residents who need help breaking the cycle of drug abuse.

The plan is a big step forward. It is important to have more public/private partnerships to tackle the issue from all angles.

Other ideas include

  • State-licensed alcohol and drug counselors to identify problems and find treatment resources.
  • Health promotion advocates to connect patients with outpatient counseling, AA, Narcotics Anonymous, and other community services.
  • Naloxone rescue kits

We will continue to track Massachusetts General Hospital’s progress with its universal patient drug and alcohol screening program.

Hopefully more acute care hospitals can take a leadership role in preventing opioid overdoses.

Progress can only be made when there are strong public / private partnerships, and a real commitment from all stakeholders involved.

 

Why We Should Be On Alert for Rx Drug Abuse

The risks for addiction increases when prescription drugs are used in ways other than as prescribed. Teenagers are especially at risk for abusing prescription drugs. They are more likely to obtain drugs in illegal ways.  In 2012, 24% of teens surveyed said they have taken a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription. Teenagers like to experiment with […]

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The Importance of Prescription Records

Anybody who has ever visited a hospital before has a medical record of some sort.  Which accounts for pretty much all of us who were born in a hospital. A medical record is simply a record of a patient’s health and medical history. Depending on the level or need of care a patient has, records may […]

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Top 10 Prescription Guidelines

  A list of guidelines has been developed for health agencies in dealing with prescription drug abuse. They include the following 10 items: Look for and treat emergencies. Use best judgment when treating pain. These recommendations follow legal and ethical advice. Have only one provider and one pharmacy for helping you with pain. Do not prescribe pain […]

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The case of West Virginia and too many doctor shoppers

A state panel sent more than 2,500 letters to medical professionals across West Virginia, warning that their patients could be “doctor shopping” for prescription drugs. West Virginia continues to be Ground Zero for the prescription drug abuse epidemic. The state’s Board of Pharmacy committee discovered hundreds of patients who were receiving pain-pill prescriptions from as many as 13 […]

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What happens to physicians who overprescribe opioids?

Just last week a NJ-based physician had his license revoked for prescribing “opioids in large quantities and strengths.” (article) The doctor was accused of providing a steady supply of painkillers and anti-depressants to patients with little or no medical justification. The complaint alleges “patients were able to secure pills even when their urine samples showed they […]

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Do Prescription Monitoring Programs actually aid drug abusers?

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Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, or PDMPs, are currently up and running in 42 states, with six other states having passed laws to enact them soon. It is generally considered that PDMPs are the most effective solution for tracking the flow of opioid prescription medications. Among several states that have reported success after implementation of the […]

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Amazing Fact About Every Mass Shooting Incident in the USA

Has anybody else read the recent article on The Liberty Crier? It is titled Nearly Every Mass Shooting in the Last 20 Years Has One Thing in Common. You can probably already guess one that one thing is that they all have in common. In nearly every single mass shooting incident that has taken place […]

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Causes and Contributing Factors of Drug Use

Multiple factors are believed to account for the rise in prescription drug abuse in the United States. Motivations to purposely abuse drugs include the desire to become intoxicated; to counter anxiety, pain, or sleep problems; and to enhance cognition. Unintended misuse can be due to misperceptions about drug safety, use of medications other than as […]

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