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Monday, April 9, 2012

California Prescription Drug Monitoring System Failure

The most effective way to gain control of the ever growing prescription drug epidemic in America is by the use of prescription drug monitoring systems. Unfortunately, many states have yet to use such systems efficiently, rendering such programs ineffective. California happens to be one of those states due to the fact that enrollment in the program is optional and on top of that funding for the program continues to be cut, according to The New York Times.

Despite the major health concerns associated with prescription drug abuse, only 1,216 pharmacists and 6,755 doctors are signed up to use the prescription drug monitoring system; when you consider that there are 165,000 physicians and pharmacists statewide it is unbelievable to think of how many are actually participating. Governor Brown cut $71 million from the state’s Department of Justice budget which has left little money to run the program effectively due to a lack of staffing, according to the article.

Doctors and pharmacists who use the system complain that it is slow and difficult to use, and cannot analyze data in a systematic manner. “It’s hit or miss,” said Dr. Richard Gracer, who runs a pain management clinic. “Once in a while it’s slow. Sometimes it gives the wrong answers. If the amount of doctors who should be using it signed up, it would probably die right away.”

Mike Small, who runs the state program, said, “Doctors don’t want to spend 10 minutes waiting when they have a patient in front of them.”

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