Designed to give medical practitioners more freedom when prescribing medication, the Electronic Prescription of Controlled Substances (EPCS) allows for safe dispensing of regulated medications. Physicians are still required to adhere to strict guidelines when prescribing these medicines, many of which might be opioids. Electronic Prescription of Controlled Substances provides a more efficient and secure method of issuing controlled substances.
Enacted in 2010, the EPCS Rule was brought into force by the DEA. In addition to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 and other legislation, the EPCS allows for the use of technology in delivering superior patient care, by enforcing strict controls around certain drugs.
Improve prescribing workflow
For healthcare practitioners and clinic staff, efficient workflows are vital to running a successful practice. Prescribed use of controlled drugs involves a certain level of bureaucracy leading to a significant amount of work for physicians and their staff.
By switching to electronic prescriptions, however, physicians are able to prescribe controlled medications more efficiently. Healthcare professionals have a time crunch and heavy workload. A streamlined process and efficient workflow like EPCS is a welcome addition to the prescription process.
Increase patient safety
Controlled substances are highly regulated because of their potential for abuse, as well as their FDA-approval status and safety. Certain protocols must be followed to ensure that patients are not exposed to the potential risk of controlled substances.
Physicians take extreme care to prescribe appropriate doses of the required medications. An incorrect dose of a prescribed controlled substance can have catastrophic results for the patient. When taken in excess or in the wrong combination, such medications can have serious and/or fatal consequences, so accurate prescribing of these drugs is critical for patient safety.
Making use of e-prescriptions can help reduce the risk of prescription errors and increase patient safety, particularly when it comes to the most restricted medications. When handwritten, prescriptions can be hard to decipher leading to unnecessary errors.
When prescribing electronically, however, the risk of confusion is minimal. E-prescriptions sent directly to pharmacists, prevent the risk of overdosage due to illegible handwriting or hurriedly written prescriptions.
Furthermore, e-prescription software is capable of highlighting potential contra indicators and dangerous drug interactions. If a controlled substance is prescribed to a patient who is already taking other medication, it is critical to ensure that unwanted drug interaction does not happen.
E-prescription software mitigates this risk and gives physicians an extra layer of protection. Furthermore, the reduction in prescription errors associated with e-prescribing can prevent costly and time-consuming lawsuits from being issued. Medical professionals consistently face the threat of legal action if an error occurs.
By incorporating EPCS into their practice regime, physicians can prevent prescription errors, and protect themselves from the threat of malpractice suits. With so many benefits associated with the EPCS, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular with doctors, pharmacists, and patients alike.
EPCS for reduced prescription fraud
Controlled substances generally carry a high risk of abuse, and it’s easy for patients to develop addictions when taking this type of medication. Unfortunately, controlled medications can cause addiction issues swiftly, even if they are only prescribed for a short amount of time and in response to a genuine medical issue.
Due to this, medical practitioners must be mindful of the potential for prescription fraud when controlled substances are concerned. Using a paper-based prescription system can result in an increasing number of successful frauds being committed, with individuals able to forge prescriptions at pharmacies without facing much scrutiny.
If medical practices and healthcare clinics employ the use of e-prescriptions, fraud will be much more difficult to carry out. Patients will be unable to copy a prescription and amend the date, so will be unable to obtain more medication than they’ve been prescribed.
In addition to this, EPCS allows pharmacies to receive and dispense regulated medicines, but it also allows them to archive these prescriptions. As a result, a patient’s use of such medications can be monitored throughout the medical community.
Typically, patients who were over-using controlled substances would visit various different medical practitioners in an attempt to obtain additional prescriptions. As each individual practitioner would be unaware of their previous treatment, it was often possible for patients to access excess drugs in this manner.
EPCS prevents this type of ‘doctor shopping’ and enables the medical community to keep comprehensive records, particularly when it comes to restricted medications. Physicians and pharmacists will be able to view patient records and see when the patient was last prescribed particular medications, regardless of which physician actually prescribed them.
As a result, the potential for abuse and the unregulated sale or drug diversion of controlled substances is considerably reduced. It’s apparent, therefore, that the use of e-prescription software can help individual patients from developing destructive patterns of drug abuse but can also help to reduce the illegal transfer of prescription drugs to persons other than the patient.
Implementing Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS)
The DEA has combined various technological advances in order to enable the electronic prescriptions scheme to operate safely and without the risk of abuse. Medical practitioners will need to meet certain requirements in order to use Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS), such as using certified software, identity proofing, and two-factor authentication.
However, additional software can be seamlessly integrated into existing practice systems and, once implemented, e-prescribing is simple and straightforward. Offering greater efficiency, reduced risk and increased protection to medical practitioners, pharmacists, and patients. EPCS isn’t just beneficial to the medical community, it’s crucial to patient care and safety.
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