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 different doctors. One man apparently went to 34 different doctors in just one year. That is a serious commitment to doctor shopping.
West Virgina has their own Prescription Monitoring Program - called the Controlled Substance Monitoring Program – which is supposed to be the statewide system that medical professionals use to check if a patient is in fact doctor shopping.
The purpose of a PDMP is to keep up-to-date and accurate records of all prescriptions that are fulfilled by the pharmacy. If all of the physicians are using than the system, then they would be able to reduce doctor shoppers.
However, hundreds of patients routinely slip through the cracks because for several reasons.
First, not everybody is using the monitoring program regularly.
Second, the Pharmacists are not updating their prescription information into the system regularly.
Third, the data is not real-time, and it is not always reliable, so even if a doctor is checking the system regularly, it cannot be confirmed that the data is up-to-date and accurate.
Because of this, the prescription drug epidemic continues unabated. Law Enforcement officials are not able to investigate claims or prosecute perpetrators.
It is a self-fulfilling cycle. West Virigina needs to find a way to create a system that is easy to use for medical professionals, that can exist seamlessly with current electronic heath record systems, and that provides accurate and real-time information. When that happens, physicians will in turn be able to receive good intel, make better judgments on their patients, and prescribe painkillers more reliably and effectively.
It is time to take a stand.