Opioid Strategies

Drug Plan Touts Pain Management Education for Docs

A South Carolina commission suggests that more education for physicians is necessary in order to reduce overprescribing.
By: | February 2, 2015

Medical providers could receive report cards, as a way to help control opioid abuse. That’s one of the recommendations included in a new report to address prescription drug abuse in South Carolina.

The Governor’s Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Council released the document with 50 recommendations. The panel was established last year to develop a plan to combat and prevent drug abuse in the state. The plan is the first effort from the council.

The authors noted that other states “have paved the way” and “successfully implemented strategies in their states with positive outcomes.” Those mentioned were New York, Florida, Tennessee, Utah, Kentucky, Maryland, and Ohio. “Following in their footsteps, South Carolina now must embark upon the journey to fight this epidemic in our state.”

The “call to action” includes recommendations involving:

  • Prescribers.
  • The South Carolina prescription monitoring program.
  • Pharmacies.
  • Third-party payers.
  • Law enforcement.
  • Treatment.
  • Education and advocacy.
  • Data and analysis.

One of the recommendations is to ramp up education to medical providers. The council suggested working with medical schools to increase course offerings and possibly make them mandatory.

“One study found that, on average, medical students receive only 12 hours of education related to pain and pain management,” the report said. “In South Carolina, there are several schools that train prescribers, and the Council recommends partnering with the schools to increase course offerings.”

Another recommendation would compile and distribute report cards to all licensed prescribers to show comparisons of their prescribing patterns with others in the same or similar clinical settings.

“One study found that, on average, medical students receive only 12 hours of education related to pain and pain management.”

“Such a report card will be private and communicated directly to the prescriber by the Department of Health and Environmental Control,” the report explained. “The purpose of the report card is solely to facilitate the prescriber’s self-evaluation of his or her prescribing patterns. The report card will not be used for any regulatory purpose, including discipline by the respective licensing board should the prescriber become the subject of a disciplinary action.”

Also, the state Board of Medical Examiners’ Pain Management Guidelines would be revised. The council suggested that third-party payers adjust their policies in accordance with the changes, especially pertaining to the South Carolina Reporting and Identification Prescription Tracking System — the state’s prescription drug monitoring program.

“For instance, payers could require prescribers to check SCRIPTS in order to be reimbursed for a visit where certain controlled substances are prescribed,” it said. “And, through the post-pay audit process, payers could ensure that treatment goals and plans, informed consent documents, and proper medical charting are documented to establish the requisite medical necessity of treatment of certain chronic pain to justify reimbursement.”

The report also called for more emphasis on SCRIPTS, noting that “only 21 percent of controlled substance prescribers” are enrolled in the program. “The Council recommends that registration and utilization of SCRIPTS be considered mandatory for prescribers to determine the appropriate controlled substance prescribing dosages, if any, to provide safe, adequate pain management and to protect the prescribers from inappropriate prescribing situations,” the report said.

Nancy Grover is the president of NMG Consulting and the Editor of Workers' Compensation Report, a publication of our parent company, LRP Publications. She can be reached at [email protected].

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