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ARC Talks to KVUE about Statewide Prescription Monitoring Program

A new statewide prescription medicine system is being launched to help the healthcare community better monitor possible prescription medicine abuse. KVUE News reached out to Austin Regional Clinic to find out more about how this program can better equip doctors to fight the opioid epidemic.

How bad is the problem?

Every day, more than 130 people in the U.S. die after overdosing on opioids. This includes pain relievers and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. The issue has become a national crisis with federal lawmakers dedicating billions of dollars to the fight.

What is the Prescription Monitoring program?

In 2017, Texas lawmakers passed a law that would require doctors to check a database before prescribing opioids. The database would include a patient’s prescription history to monitor any evidence of doctor-shopping. The law was supposed to go into effect in 2019 but has been delayed to March 1, 2020.

In advance of this law, ARC physician leadership has developed a controlled medication protocol. These guidelines help monitor the usage of potentially dangerous medications and improve the care of ARC patients who require controlled medications.

How can a statewide system help?

In an interview with KVUE, Dr. Jay Zdunek, ARC chief medical officer, recalled a time when he prescribed opioids to a patient who was apparently shopping around to various doctors for similar prescriptions. A statewide program monitoring program along with ARC’s strengthened protocols will enable him to identify patients who may be abusing their medications.

“It’ll allow me to be able to see patients who may be getting multiple prescriptions from multiple providers – that's a big no-no,” Zdunek said to KVUE. “If you see a pattern, it clearly allows you to be able to stop prescribing or remove that patient from your practice panel.”

He said physicians are glad to see a system like this in place.

“All physicians know that there is a problem and all physicians recognize that anything they can do to try to help alleviate the problem, they would like to do it,” Dr. Zdunek said.

Watch Dr. Jay Zdunek discuss ARC’s efforts to curb opioid abuse with KVUE News.

Tags: Prescription Monitoring Program, Opioid Epidemic