Weiner reviewed 544 patient visits to emergency departments at two healthcare facilities in a year between June 2011 and June 2013. He compared the "emergency provider impression of drug-seeking behavior" and data from the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. Generally, there was "fair agreement" between emergency providers' impression of drug-seeking behavior, and what was found in prescription drug monitoring program data, Weiner wrote.
Physicians are getting a good sense of who would be a drug-abuser or not. But the prescription monitoring programs have the data that helps in talking to patients, Weiner says. Supported by data, doctors can show proof of their drug-taking practices.
"It makes the patient aware that we are aware" of the drug-abusing potential he or she may have, Weiner says. "We can tell [a patient] 'you told me you didn't have these prescriptions, and the data base says you have 20. What's going on? That can start the screening and that can lead to interventions."
Still, it's unfortunate that the Prescription Monitoring is limited in the amount of data it can capture, Weiner says. Emergency department physicians are taking steps toward getting a handle on drug-abusing practices, but they are still far from where they want to be, Weiner says.
"We're at the stage of dealing with (the drug-abuse issue), just at the point of identifying the problem."