NASHVILLE – Effective April 1, 2013, prescribers will be required to look up their patients in the state’s Controlled Substance Monitoring Database before beginning a new treatment with an opioid or benzodiazepine and at least yearly thereafter if treatment continues. The reporting will ultimately benefit all Tennesseans in helping to decrease the complex collection of problems associated with improper use of prescribed drugs.
“Just as we check for allergies before giving a medication intended to help a patient, medical professionals will now check the database to help prevent these powerful medications from causing harm,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “We believe the April 1 requirement for clinicians to use the database will improve patient safety, provide opportunities for counseling and referral to treatment to prevent misuse and abuse of prescription drugs, and help to prevent the use of drugs for non-intended purposes.”
In 2011, a total of 1,062 people died from drug overdoses in Tennessee. The database will provide clinicians opportunities to identify patients with potential substance abuse or misuse issues so timely counseling and referral can occur to help prevent future deaths. This identification is critical when patients are women of childbearing age.
“Clinician-patient conversations are especially important among women of childbearing age,” said TDH Chief Medical Officer David Reagan, MD, PhD. “We unfortunately have a national epidemic of babies being born dependent on legal or illegal drugs their mothers ingested during pregnancy. At birth, the baby is cut off from the drug and goes through a painful process of withdrawal. The condition is known as neonatal abstinence syndrome or NAS, and it is painful for the baby and costly to society. In addition to the suffering of the infant, typical first year of life health costs for a baby with neonatal abstinence syndrome are nearly six times higher than for a normal baby.”
In 2011, Tennessee recorded 629 NAS births. Prescribers and dispensers of narcotics who have questions about the Controlled Substance Monitoring Database should call 615-253-1305 or visit http://health.state.tn.us/boards/Controlledsubstance/index.shtml.