With lawmakers set to review the regulations of the so-called pill mill bill Wednesday, doctors are saying some legitimate patients are having trouble getting access to prescription drugs as a result of the legislation.
The law is aimed at cracking down on illegal pain-management clinics and curbing prescription-drug abuse. It requires physicians to use the state’s prescription-drug monitoring system, KASPER, before prescribing certain drugs.
But some doctors worry they may face criminal charges or penalties for prescribing the drugs or making clerical errors, reports Scott Wartman for the Kentucky Enquirer, an edition of The Cincinnati Enquirer. As a result, “There are already doctors saying no more prescriptions on green prescription pads,” said Dr. Gregory Hood, a Lexington internist and governor for the Kentucky chapter of the American College of Physicians.
The legislation also “adds layers of more work they or their staffs already have to do,” said Dr. Elmer Martin, a Covington pediatrician who is the medical director of HealthPoint Family Care.
But state officials say the only criminal penalties in the bill would result only “from someone operating a pain clinic without a doctor’s license and for intentional failure to input data into the state’s prescription drug tracking system,” Wartman reports. Since July 20, the number of KASPER reports requested by doctors has grown to 20,000 per day from 3,000. The reports show a patient’s prescription history to indicate “doctor shopping.”
The number of drugs prescribed has increased exponentially in Kentucky. “Last year there was enough doses of hydrocodone prescribed “to treat every man, woman and child in the state with 50 doses,” said Van Ingram, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy. Still, even physicians who supported the bill, like Dr. Robert Klickovich, say it needs to be tweaked. “Specialists may not be present in rural communities and if primary care physicians fear prescribing, even though in the appropriate case, for fear of a punitive action, they may hesitate to treat a patient,” he told Wartman.
Kentucky Health News is a service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.