Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

While the politicians discuss the raging opioid crisis, healthcare professionals, from first responders to hospital discharge planners, are working with it every day. The statistics that are flashed across the evening news have real life faces, names, and families. These nameless numbers represent mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters, and sons. These individuals are who frontline direct healthcare
workers deal with throughout their shifts that often roll into overtime.

Hospital Case Managers can often feel helpless when it comes to arranging post-acute care services for patients with substance abuse issues. Community services are limited, government benefits lacking and personal or family support is usually distance and cost prohibited for the working class. This situation makes preventing the problem on the front end more critical than ever. The Prescription Drug
Monitoring Program is trying to be that front end help.

The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program is a highly effective tool utilized by government officials for reducing prescription drug abuse. The program collects, monitors and analyzes electronically-transmitted prescribing and dispensing data that is submitted from pharmacies and dispensing practitioners. This Federal Program reports positive effects in the areas of education, research, enforcement, abuse and prevention in the war against the national epidemic of addition. The organization is managed under the auspices of individual states, districts, commonwealths, and territories of United States.

The intent of the program is not to interfere with the appropriate medical use of entities authorized by state law. The legitimate prescribing of a controlled substance by a practitioner acting in good faith in their professional practice is not intended to be the focus of this agency. The information is shared among healthcare practitioners, pharmacists, regulatory boards, law enforcement, medical examiners, and research professionals. The program is proactive in safeguarding public health and safety while supporting the legitimate
use of controlled substances. To this goal, all states have a program that can be found at

The program is focusing their efforts on Federal Schedules II-IV narcotics such as hydrocodone (Vicodin), tranquilizers (alprazolam and diazepam), and methylphenidate. The full list of controlled substances being monitored includes the following:

  • Oxycodone(oxycontin)
  • Morphine
  • Methadone
  • Fentanyl-synthetic opioid
  • Heron-illegal opioid

The CMS Proposed Discharge Rule advocates for medication reconciliation for every patient being discharged. The PDMP is mentioned as a resource for hospitals to access when completing discharge instructions for patients. The intent is to catch potential abuse issues among those prescribing, dispensing, and using. This is a good thought-process but until treatment options are readily available regardless of the financial means of an afflicted person, it is only a thought.

By Cathy Massaro, MSW, CCM

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