SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program continues to be a way to curb opioid over-prescribing in Georgia, and starting in 2018, anyone able to write a prescription has to be registered in the program.
The new requirement stems from a law passed in Georgia during the 2017 session. Before the new law, only about 10 percent of prescribers state-wide were registered in the PDMP.
The passage of Georgia House Bill 249 means those with the ability to write prescriptions have to be signed up for the database by today.
"What that does, is we will look and see what physicians are giving patients medication other than ourselves. And we'll be able to know who's getting narcotics as well as benzodiazepines from other physicians," Dr. David Gaskin said.
Gaskin, a practicing physician in Savannah, said the new law is a step in the right direction that will hold doctors more accountable, and keep better track of potential over-prescribing.
Failing to sign up for the PDMP, or maintain records, could mean losing a medical license.
"They're not going to be held criminally responsible for this, but the Georgia State Board will be the ones responsible for administratively dealing with physicians that don't follow the letter of the law," Gaskin said.
So what could you expect to see if you are visiting the doctor to get pain medication?
"We'll have to query this PDMP every time we write narcotics, or people on chronic medications for pain," Gaskin said. "We'll have to query it every 90 days. The patients will be quite aware of us doing this. And they will also be signing a form for us to know that they're coming to us only and not going to any other physicians. It's a patient pain medication agreement. Yes, a contract."
Dr. Gaskin said while the law and new requirements are a step in the right direction, he'd like to see lawmakers take it even further and require amphetamines to be reported in the database as well.
Physicians will not have to check the database under certain circumstances.
If the prescription is for no more than three days and no more than twenty-six pills, if the patient is in a health care facility, had outpatient surgery or is receiving cancer treatments.