(This is the second of my blog series on KY’s “Pill Mill Bill”. Please access the first blog post here)
At some point in the discussion of the perfect storm created by Kentucky’s new narcotic-prescribing bill someone asked “How can regulations that aren’t going to be enforced until October be considered emergent?” I have no clue what the answer to that is but I can give an update into my office’s attempt at implementing the regs. Let me start by describing it as chaotic, confusing, time-consuming, and utterly frustrating.
We have patients calling from other doctors’ offices who want to switch their care because those physicians have thrown their hands up in frustration and are simply refusing to prescribe any controlled substances. We are not accepting any new patients on controlled substances until the dust settles. I spoke with an ER doctor a couple of days ago who told me it is taking 15 more minutes per patient who needs a controlled substance prescription. I was unable to find any statistics on how many patients leave an ER needing a narcotic or other scheduled medication, but given that it is an acute care environment, one could assume at least 25%. Emergency Departments are already over-crowded, so imagine the issue with increasing the waiting time due to these ill-conceived, burdensome regulations added to a law already over-reaching in its original form, now with many more medications than originally intended.
I try to explain the regulations to patients, including the need to have urine drug testing because of their Ambien (a sleep aid of mild abuse potential) or testosterone prescriptions. Their expressions and questions are of disbelief and frustration.
- Question: Will my insurance pay for the drug tests? Answer: I have no clue.
- Question: Why am I being treated like a drug abuser? Answer: Call your governor.
- Question: Am I going to have to be seen every three months? Answer: As long as I have to run a KASPER report on you every three months–yes.
- Question: Will my insurance pay for those visits? Answer: I have no clue.
- Question: Who thought this up? Answer: I’m not sure but I’d recommend asking Governor Beshear that one too.
- Question: I’ve heard some doctors are just not prescribing controlled substances. Are you going to do that too? Answer: No, uh, let me qualify that. I don’t think so.