Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers: Opioid Epidemic Prompts Establishment of Prescription Drug Database
December 31, 2016
Just a few months ago Pennsylvania initiated a prescription drug-monitoring database due to the overwhelming amount of drug overdoses and deaths that have been occurring. Just last year alone, there were more than 3,300 overdoses, many of them fatal. This is the highest number of overdoses that Pennsylvania has ever had.
There are multiple concerns surrounding PA’s drug-monitoring system, most of them centered on the possibility, for those who suffer from drug addiction, of addicts switching to more accessible and inexpensive street drugs, like heroin. Because heroin is an opiate, just like the prescription opioid painkillers, there is an increased chance for people to resort to it if their access to prescriptions diminishes. This, doctors warn, could significantly contribute to PA’s overdose epidemic and lead to an even greater loss of life as well as an influx of statewide narcotic addiction.
There are some very influential, positive outcomes that the prescription drug database could bring about as well. Doctors will now be able to identify certain patients as drug addicts, ones that they may not have known about prior to the monitoring-system, and therefore were not able to help. Once a doctor has identified this problem, they can recommend inpatient treatment and rehabilitation, helping the addict to fight the disease. However, Pennsylvania may not yet have enough treatment options for people who need the assistance. PA’s Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs has said that there are licensed detoxification centers throughout the commonwealth that have had to turn a minimum of 10 people away daily, all because of a lack of resources.
While Pennsylvania’s new prescription database is targeting “doctor-shoppers”, or people who go from doctor to doctor, attempting to get multiple prescriptions for opioids and other controlled narcotics, its goal is not purely to get people into trouble. Part of the intention is to help drug addicts who are suffering but also to prohibit illegal and dangerous behaviors from occurring at a startling rate. The prescription database will also monitor doctors, insuring that they appropriately and conscientiously prescribe potentially addictive medications for the appropriate conditions, diagnoses and periods of time.
Although doctors have been decreasing the amount of opioids that they prescribe to patients, it is uncertain just how much of an effect the drug-monitoring database will have on limiting the prevalence of prescription narcotics in Pennsylvania. 48 other states have initialized drug-monitoring systems and so far they have experienced a decline in drug overdoses and drug addiction.
These prescription drug-monitoring programs, or PDMPs, do appear to positively contribute to a lower rate of drug abuse and overdose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that at least 78 people in the United States die every single day from opioid overdoses, including heroin. Not everyone, however, is on board with the implementation of a PMDP. The senior vice president of The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania worries that the monitoring database could cause administrative burdens, and that consequences for healthcare professionals who do not abide by the rules of the program could vary in severity. Others feel that doctors already struggle under heavy workloads, and that this extra step could become too burdensome. Only time will tell what effect the prescription drug-monitoring program will have throughout Pennsylvania, but all we can hope is for help to be offered to those who suffer from drug addiction, and that the epidemic of drug overdoses will steadily decline, limiting the amount of people who lose their loved ones to this destructive disease.
Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Advocate for Victims of Opioid Prescription Addiction
With offices located in Philadelphia, Reading and Bethlehem, the malpractice attorneys at Galfand Berger, LLP serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.