New law requires doctors to fill opioid RX electronically
Your trip to the doctor may be a bit different in the new decade, as Rhode Island is requiring doctors to fill prescriptions for controlled substances, like opioids, electronically.
The law was passed in 2017 and after a two year grace period where the Department of Health hashed out regulations.
The new law is not only for opioids but rather anything that falls under the category of a controlled substance.
"Something that has the potential for abuse or dependence that includes prescription opioids prescription stimulants or benzodiazepines," said Dr. Jim McDonald, Medical Director with the Rhode Island Department of Health.
By throwing away the old prescription pad for these kinds of medications, Dr. McDonald believes it's easier for physicians and beneficial for patients.
"It's going to go without errors," McDonald said. "In other words, we know when an electronic prescription gets transmitted the pharmacist doesn't have to decipher the doctor's handwriting."
The focus of the law is to combat the opioid crisis which is ravaging the country.
"It turns out it's not that hard to forge a paper prescription and that's why we have a problem with diversion of prescription opioids," he said. "Quite frankly this is a problem we need to stop."
This new system wants to keep opioids out of the wrong hands.
"There is certain opioid medications that is more likely diverted and one of the things e-prescribing does is put more security around this whole exchange," McDonald said.
As for security, hackers don't seem to be a concern for the state.
"It goes through electronic records and e-prescribing software that we know is security-vetted and we know is safe," he said.
Certain private practices, dentists, and veterinarians have a grace period so they can be caught up with the new system.
In 2021, on the federal level, Medicare Part D will be having the same requirements.
The law goes into effect Jan. 2.