Changes coming to drug monitoring program

Changes take effect April 1

Changes coming to drug monitoring...

Big changes are coming to Wisconsin's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program next month.

The Wisconsin Prescription Drug Monitoring Program gives doctors and pharmacists the ability to check a patient's history with opioid prescriptions, in an effort to curb abuse.

Since 2013, the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program has been critical in getting opioids such as oxycodone out of the wrong hands.

"It allowed providers to look up a patient's history of narcotics prescriptions to see if they were getting prescriptions elsewhere, if they were getting prescribed too many,” said Dr. Chris Eberlein, of Gundersen Health System. “It was a good first step."

Eberlein said that program has been a resounding success.

"Prescriptions of narcotics have gone down about 30 percent," Eberlein said.

Earlier this year, the website was redesigned to add to its features and make it easier to use.

Starting Saturday, doctors and pharmacists will be required to check the enhanced database before prescribing a scheduled medication

"Before it was just a suggested use. They were supposed to use it. A lot of providers did, but probably only about half of them were using it,” Eberlein said.

Both health systems are preparing for the changes.

"The use of this has already been incorporated into many practices into the clinic, but we're ready for it. We've got over 80 percent of our providers are enrolled as of last week,” said Dr. Cheri Olson of Mayo Clinic Health System.

Doctors said the new requirement will create a conversation between providers and patients.

"It’s something that's meant to be shared with patients. 'Oh, it looks like you visited the emergency room in Tomah last week, and you received some narcotics or received some other medication. Can you tell me more about it?' 'Oh yeah that's right I forgot about that.' It becomes a good conversation starter for discussions about good practices in prescribing medications," Olson said.

The time required to enter the prescriptions into the database will also be reduced from seven days to one.

"Someone could shop to several different providers, and in that seven days, you could fill a lot of prescriptions before they all got entered and someone could figure it out,” Eberlein said.

Such procedures, medical professions said, will save lives.

"We're not trying to catch them. We're just trying to make sure we're doing the best possible care for them,” Olson said.

The program looks at all controlled substances, not just prescription opioids.

Doctors said it takes just about an extra minute to check the website for prescriptions for each patient.

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