Prescription Monitoring Program allows all prescribers access - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Prescription Monitoring Program allows all prescribers access to drug data

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PASCO, Wash. -- In October, Washington State Board of Pharmacy mandated that every pharmacist, doctor and medication prescriber begin tracking all prescribed controlled substances.

The Washington State Prescription Monitoring Program has collected more than 3.1 million records for controlled substance prescriptions across the state. And now prescribers have access to this information.

"A prescription monitoring program lets us access history and check if the patient gives us the same story their prescription history gives us. if someone has received 60 pain pills 2 days ago from another emergency department but says they've never seen anybody for this problem before, then it makes it very easy to know something is amiss," says Dr. Todd Lange, the Emergency Room Medical Director at Lourdes Medical Center in Pasco.

"We have seven days to report to the state via several methods of electronic reporting," explains Tracy Clark the Director of Pharmacy Services at Lourdes.

The Health Department says since October,  the most dispensed drug was Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen, the generic form of Vicodin. It accounts for more than 800,000 prescriptions and represents more than 44 million pills..  While this is expected to save millions of dollars and save many lives, there are some kinks to be worked out , like who pays for the program.

"It's not obvious to me why it should be an additional charge for me as a prescriber.  I think this is a normal part of  running a healthcare system and it should be funded by the legislature who will ultimately accrue a considerable amount of savings because they're going to have reduced expenses from Medicare and Medicaid," says Lang.

Despite the setback, most providers agree it's the right thing to do.  "It's a minimal investment compared to the benefit we're getting for our  Emergency Department prescriber and our clinic prescribers to view that data and make informed decisions about the care that they're providing," says Clark.


"Keeping track of people's medications improves patient safety and care," says Secretary of Health Mary Selecky. "The system is an effective tool for prescribers that also protects patients."