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The Importance of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs)

Written by Duane Tinker (aka the Toothcop)

So you've made it this far and are probably wondering, "What's the deal with PDMPs?" Good question! Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, or PDMPs, are state-run electronic databases used to track the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances. If you're not already familiar with your state's PDMP, it's time to get acquainted.


Why PDMPs Matter
PDMPs play a vital role in improving public safety and patient outcomes. They help you identify "doctor shoppers"—patients who go from doctor to doctor trying to collect multiple prescriptions. You can also see if a patient is already receiving medication from another provider that could interact adversely with a new prescription. Plus, it's a fantastic tool for preventing drug abuse and diversion.

When to Check the PDMP
Most states mandate that healthcare providers consult the PDMP before issuing a prescription for a controlled substance. Some states even specify how soon before writing the prescription you need to check. Generally, you’ll want to consult it when you’re prescribing for a new patient, when you’re considering a new controlled substance, or at regular intervals for patients on long-term therapy.


How to Use It
Using a PDMP is generally straightforward. Once you're registered, you can access the database online. You'll enter your patient's information, and the system will show you their prescription history for controlled substances. Simple as that.

Recordkeeping and the PDMP
Don’t forget that your consultation with the PDMP should be documented in the patient’s record. Yes, this counts toward your due diligence and could be a lifesaver in case of an audit.

What if Something Looks Off?
If you notice suspicious activity, like a patient getting multiple prescriptions from various providers, it's your responsibility to take appropriate action. This could range from discussing the issue with your patient to refusing to prescribe controlled substances and potentially reporting the situation.


The Bottom Line
PDMPs are here to help, not hinder. They're an essential tool in responsible prescribing and a valuable asset in your practice. Make checking your state's PDMP a routine part of your prescribing process.

Alright, that wraps up our PDMP discussion. It's another layer in the multi-faceted world of controlled substance prescribing, but it's a crucial one. So, don't skip it!


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