In another attempt to curb opioid abuse, doctors in New York will soon quit the paper prescriptions and switch to issuing digital ones under a new state law.
According to The New York Times, this legislation will make New York a pioneer state in mandating digital prescriptions and charging doctors who won’t comply. The law goes into effect starting March 27th.
This particular mandate is part of a broader law named I-Stop, passed in 2012 as a response to the NY’s increasing opioid abuse issue. The New York State Health Department reported a sharp growth in opioid-related deaths over the past ten years.
At the same time, it is somewhat disturbing that the number of prescriptions issued between 2013 and 2014 for controlled substances (27 million) was 7 million higher than the number of state residents.
Authorities hope to reduce error and fraud by eliminating paper pads and handwritten prescriptions of the equation. Patients will no longer be able to modify a doctor’s note before heading to a pharmacy.
The creation of a digital registry containing all patients’ prescriptions was also part of I-Stop. Having gone into effect in 2013, the registry was to be consulted by doctors before prescribing controlled substances.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told the press that “paper prescriptions had become a form of criminal currency that could be traded even more easily than the drugs themselves.”
The incidence of these crimes should be curbed by switching to a system of e-prescribing; also, the law should reduce errors that come from the “misinterpretation of handwriting on good-faith prescriptions.”
But the transition is not as smooth as authorities hoped it would be. According to the Times, only 60 percent of the state’s prescribers were ready to move to electronic prescriptions as of January. Plenty of health systems had to ask for more time before they could comply.
When the doctor writes a prescription, the patient has to choose a pharmacy early; should the selected store be out of medication, the patient’s prescription will be canceled, and the doctor will re-issue it.
Minnesota is another city working in adopting the e-prescription law, but New York is more determined – NY physicians who don’t comply are setting themselves up for fines or even jail.
As a result, hospitals and doctors are rushing to get registered for the program and get in line with the extra security steps that are now required to prescribe opioid-based medications.
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