The report I received listed me and five physicians outside my practice. Each prescribing physician's prescriptions were filled at a different pharmacy, so the patient was using six pharmacies as well to avoid suspicion.
This person was so adept at playing the system that I do not think he would ever have been caught without this new tracking program.
It can be very difficult to tell the difference between misusing medications and legitimate complaints from those suffering chronic pain or being undertreated for pain.
Integrated programs of pain management with physical therapy, psychotherapy, interventional injection therapy, behavioral interventions, acupuncture and good medical management can help.
Oversight of abusive patient pharmacy- and doctor-shopping with the new tracking system run by the DOJ has given us a tremendous step up. Some people might feel that such oversight is intrusive. But having such backup is a protection for me and my patients.
Abuse of prescription drugs remains a major public health crisis. Hopefully better monitoring will be an additional factor to avoid the heartbreak of prescription drug abuse.
Lefevre is a Modesto doctor and a former visiting editor. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.