If you are an NP, you have no doubt encountered malingering patients seeking narcotic prescriptions. Some are a dead giveaway, others a little more crafty. Once you identify these patients, you have to decide… is it worth the fight? Have I had enough energy drinks tonight to stand my ground and not prescribe any narcotic meds? Will pull the bait and switch and tell the patient I have written them something for “pain” and then promptly produce a prescription for 800mg Ibuprofen (and mentally prepare for a verbal assault)? Or, have one too many patients yelled at my today and will I give in prescribe just a few “tabs”?
Thankfully, a new fingerprinting system may soon take care of this problem for you. The Wall Street Journal reports that hospital systems and pharmacies in Ohio are beginning to use fingerprint scanners for patient check in and prescription pick up. After the patient scans their fingerprint, real-time data from the patient’s electronic medical record is uploaded to the provider or pharmacist’s computer allowing them to see their number of doctor’s visits, trips to the pharmacy and type and number of pills prescribed.
Although I am generally against programs that seem like “big brother”, I think this fingerprinting program is promising. Non-fingerprint based prescribing databases do exist in some states, however if they are anything like the one in Tennessee, they do not seem to be updated frequently and may often be inaccurate. I would love to see this more sophisticated program become more widely used. Although, I may actually miss pulling the bait and switch.