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Doctors Should Check Drug Database Before Prescribing Addictive Drugs, Consumer Watchdog Says

Consumer Watchdog is circulating a ballot measure to mandate doctors check a state prescription drug database to prevent abuse.

Paul Burns/Getty Images
Paul Burns/Getty Images

In a position paper published Tuesday to address the "serious public health problem" of prescription drug abuse,  the American College of Physicians, the nation's largest physician medical society, argues that doctors should be required to check state prescription drug databases before prescribing controlled substances to patients. Petitions are currently being circulated in California for a patient safety ballot measure that would mandate that physicians check an electronic database of patients' prescription histories before prescribing.

"One in five Americans abuse prescription drugs and there is too little oversight of patients and overprescribing. This step by the nation's largest medical society recognizes that mandatory use of prescription drug databases before physicians prescribe will help identify 'doctor-shopping' patients and save lives. The stance will improve patient safety and is in stark contrast to the actions of the California Medical Association, which killed legislation this year that would have mandated that physicians check the database before prescribing," said Carmen Balber, executive director of the Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog.

The proposed ballot measure is sponsored by Bob Pack, who lost his two young children, 10-year-old Troy and 7-year-old Alana, when they were struck by a driver who was high on prescription pills she had been recklessly prescribed at the state's largest health care system, Kaiser Permanente. The driver fell asleep at the wheel and swerved off a road, killing not only Troy and Alana, but the unborn twins Carmen Pack was carrying as well. The doctors and hospitals were never held accountable, and Kaiser has stonewalled reforms for greater patient safety for the last decade.

"ACP supports the establishment of a national Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). …Prescribers and dispensers should check PDMPs in their own and neighboring states (as permitted) prior to writing or filling prescriptions for medications containing controlled substances,"wrote the American College of Physicians for the Annals of Internal medicine.

Read the position paper: http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1788221

In addition to prescription drug abuse by patients, the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act addresses the problems of physician drug and alcohol abuse and accountability for medical negligence. The measure would:

  • Crack down on prescription drug abuse and overprescribing by requiring doctors to check a statewide database before prescribing class II and III narcotics;  
  • Require random drug and alcohol testing of doctors – just like pilots, police officers and bus drivers do.
  • Hold doctors accountable for negligence by adjusting the current limit on medical negligence damages to account for 38 years of inflation while maintaining the existing cap on attorneys' fees.

To learn more about the ballot measure, visit www.PackAct.org.

Consumer Watchdog press release

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