The Texas Department of Public Safety unveils an online database that will help fight the growing prescription drug abuse across the state.
DPS spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said the tool can help spot people who are “doctor shopping.” The term “doctor shopping” is used to describe individuals who go to different physicians to obtain prescription medications which they either use for their own addiction or sell to others.
The online monitoring program, Prescription Access in Texas (PAT), was officially launched in June 2012; however, it was made available only to a select group of practitioners, pharmacists and law enforcement professionals. Beginning this month, DPS has extended the program’s access to additional physicians and law enforcement, mid-level practitioners, medical board and nursing board investigators. The goal of PAT is to identify drug dealers and abusers by keeping an eye on prescribed painkillers and other drugs of abuse.
Texas officials consider prescription drug abuse an epidemic in the state and the nation. Existing statistics show that the death rate attributed to prescription drug overdose is 8.6 deaths per 100,000 Texans. With the online database, health care professionals could be instrumental in saving more lives by having the ability to check patients’ prescription drug history throughout the state before writing prescriptions.
While the American Civil Liberties Union expressed their reservations about the program, the state continues to work on security measures to ensure the safety of the information.