As a result, ED repeat visits were reduced from 137 or (5.27 per week) to 10 total visits or (1.67 visits per week) over a 6-month period, according to Alfred Joshua, MD, an emergency medicine specialist at the University of California, San Diego.
A major national effort to track drug-abusing patients has been carried out in individual state prescription monitoring programs, which collect, monitor and analyze prescribing and dispensing data submitted by pharmacies. About 42 states have PMPs that are operational, and seven more have pending legislation for such programs, according to the Alliance of States with Prescription Monitoring Programs.
Tracking is uneven, however, because different states don't cover all scheduled drugs. Still, the Prescription Monitoring Program has been effective for a hospital such as Tufts Medical Center, Weiner says.
"That has made a big difference," Weiner adds. "Now on a statewide basis, I can see where patients had their prescriptions filled. Before I had to use my own judgment. I would think, 'Oh, I think this guy is a drug seeker. No, I don't think this guy is a drug seeker.'' I could have been entirely wrong."
In fact, ED physicians do almost as well on their own as prescription monitoring programs.