Drug abuse is a serious problem in the United States and is the number one cause of accidental death. Prescription medications have become more accessible and some people even get medication from friends and family to bypass the system. Identifying whether an individual actually needs a drug versus "needing" it because of addiction is sometimes difficult without all the information. This is where prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) can help by offering a more comprehensive view of patient drug use.
Health care professionals play a major part in fighting the opioid epidemic. By using state-run PDMPs (49 states mandate it), they can access a database with prescription and dispensation of federally-controlled substances data. Information includes a patient's prescription history to help providers make decisions regarding treatment.
Health care professionals also can integrate tools into their EHR that query state PDMP data, analyze this information automatically and provide insights to assist with next steps for patient care. These reports include figures on the number of providers, number of dispensing pharmacies, prescription history and active medication. Having a holistic picture of the patient's past and currently prescribed medications can help providers identify potential drug abuse, avoid unnecessary labs and tests, and improve patient safety - the most important goal of all.