The Medical Licensing Board of Indiana voted last Thursday to adopt SB 246, a new rule for physicians who prescribe addictive pain medications to nonterminal patients.
Starting December 15th this year, physicians will be required to monitor certain patient’s history via the state’s drug monitoring system called INSPECT. Dr.
Deborah McMahan, health commissioner for the Fort Wayne Allen County Department of Health and Education Chair for the Prescription Test Drug Force, helped to create the new rules. According to McMahan, more people die from accidental drug overdose than motor vehicle accidents.
Furthermore, a large number of young people are experimenting with prescription drugs they find lying around.
“I think the CDC identified a few years ago that prescription drug abuse has become a very serious problem in terms of overdose deaths,” McMahan said, “By really looking at this issue, we figured out that we need to step back and look at the information we’ve learned about chronic pain and what works and formulate some rules to help us prescribe more safely for our patients.”
Physicians will now obtain a more detailed physical history, assess mental health, and consider a patient’s potential for addiction before prescribing certain pills.
Doctors and patients will also sign a treatment agreement, which will memorialize the goals of the treatment and provide information to patients about the medications.
McMahan says challenges remain for both doctors and patients.
“The greater challenge that as a country and as a culture and a community, we’ve learned to accept a lower standard of being asymptomatic instead of rather being functional and healthy,” McMahan says, “I think it’s going to be a challenge for patients because it’s far simpler for me to write you a prescription to be asymptomatic. For me to make you functional and healthy, the patient has to be an active participant. I don’t think we’ve always pushed that in the past as much as we’ll need to in the future.”
Despite all these changes, McMahan is optimistic about the new rules and the future of the community.
“We’ve received surprisingly little negative feedback about the new rules,” McMahan says, “Change is always hard, I understand, but once we start seeing this cycle of health and wellness and how positive it affects our lives, I hope that’s a momentum we can keep going.”
The state Medical Licensing Board also adopted a new rule giving the Attorney General’s Office the ability to more efficiently review physician records, regarding controlled substances.