Kentucky Doctors Concerned About New Prescription Pill Law

August 15, 2012

Some Kentucky doctors are expressing concerns about new regulations that require them to meet tougher prescription standards in an effort to stop drug abuse.

Dr. Gregory Hood, a Lexington internist with the Kentucky chapter of the American College of Physicians, told The Kentucky Enquirer that the law passed earlier this year by legislators likely will mean some doctors will stop writing prescriptions for controlled substances that treat pain and anxiety.

Doctors and other medical professionals will have a chance on Wednesday during a hearing in Frankfort to express their concerns.

The statute passed by lawmakers this year said licensing boards should “police their own industry” and gave them until Sept. 1 to draft a final plan. Gov. Steve Beshear has signed emergency regulations that put measures into place until then.

“We will try and still use the full extent of our medical education to treat patients, but there are already doctors saying no more prescriptions on a green prescription pads,” Hood said.

He said the concern is more than just legal liability – it can also infringe on patient confidentiality. Hood said he couldn’t give needed medicine to a recent patient who suffered a panic attack after telling him about a history of abuse because results of a drug screening required by the law would come to her house and could be seen by her husband, he said.

“The paper trail would lead to discovery,” Hood said.

Doctors say they want more flexibility to deal with a variety of issues they must deal with.

For example, Dr. Shawn Jones, an ear, nose and throat specialist in Paducah and president of the Kentucky Medical Association, said he performed a tonsillectomy on a 4-year-old child who didn’t have a Social Security number. The child needed pain medicine, but he couldn’t run the child through the state’s prescription drug tracking system, Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting system, without a Social Security number.

“The parents had not applied for a Social Security number yet,” Jones said. “You cannot run a KASPER report on someone without a Social Security number. I either decide I treat the patient appropriately or I’m in violation of House Bill 1, which means the local Commonwealth Attorney could prosecute me under the law.”

Law enforcement and state officials, however, said there’s a lot of misinformation about the bill regulations and criminal penalties would ensue only from someone operating a pain clinic without a proper license or for intentional failure to put data into the drug tracking system.

Pain management doctors say the law drafted by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure will help put illegitimate clinics out of business.

“It helps the KBML and helps patients identify providers that have taken the amount of time to train in the appropriate system in order to do things in the right way,” said Dr. Robert Klickovich, an Edgewood anesthesiologist who supports the regulations.

“I think the big thing is what changes this legislation potentially has to impact access on the part of patients in rural communities,” Klickovich said. “Specialists may not be present in rural communities and if primary care physicians fear prescribing, even though in the appropriate case, for fear of a punitive action, they may hesitate to treat a patient.”

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