A new state mandate now requires physicians to turn to the Illinois Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program.
In the past, this mandate only applied to pharmacists dispensing the controlled substances. Now, some local health professionals say they think the move is a step in the right direction.
"There's been a sharp and swift rise in opioid use and abuse," says Jason Bredenkamp, an emergency room doctor with Mercyhealth.
That's why Bredenkamp says it's his mission to crack down on patients who doctor shop around to find extra opioid medication.
"Red flags for if they're filling them at multiple different pharmacies and multiple prescriptions on the same day or within a couple of day period," Bredenkamp says.
New legislation aims to help doctors notice those red flags. It comes as a mandate for them to check patients' history at the the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program.
"It allows us to log on to a secure website and pull up the patient's prescription history for controlled substances," Bredenkamp says.
Tom Carey, the director of pharmacy at SwedishAmerican Hospital says he doesn't think the mandate will have much of an impact.
"Unfortunately, there are many other paths that are available for patients that are able to get opioids and so the benefits nominal," Carey says.
Mercyhealth's Bredenkamp says his staff works to identify patients who come in for chronic pain. Rather than writing the prescription, staff tries to refer them to other resources like a pain specialist or their primary doctors.
"If you take the time to sit down and talk with a patient and have an honest conversation with them about their chronic pain and where the appropriate treatment should be and help them obtain those resources -- most of the time they're not only thankful -- it not only reduces but eliminates their visits to the emergency department."
Stopping the abuse in its tracks, it's a move the state and professionals hope will help stop the epidemic.
Physicians who don't comply may be subject to state disciplinary action. The new law takes effect Jan. 1.
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