New database allows Utah health officials easy access to records

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    By Janae Ashton

    Utah health officials will soon be able to access patient information dealing with prescription drug abuse 24 hours a day using the Utah Controlled Substance Database.

    The database is meant to help health officials monitor patients who may be “doctor shopping” to fulfill their addictions to prescription drugs.

    “Doctor shopping” is the term used to describe patients who go from doctor to doctor, and even some dentists, making up stories that will enable them to get more of their desired drug, according to a KSL report.

    The database will be available around the clock on the Internet later this month, as apposed to only in the workplace.

    Pharmacist Keith Bennion has been using the database at his work and said it is very useful.

    “Professionally as a pharmacist, it”s a very helpful tool,” Bennion said. “What we can do is we can access that database and track what pharmacies they”re [patients] going to.”

    The database has been created largely through pharmacist participation, Bennion said.

    By law, pharmacists have to send a record to the administrator once a month, which consists of all the controlled substances they filled during that time period.

    In a recent situation, Bennion was contacted by another pharmacy to inform him that they found a forgery.

    “I”ll go to bill the prescription online and the insurance company will say, ”oh, they can”t fill it yet because they just got it filled three days ago somewhere else,”” Bennion said.

    Christine Keyser, a public information officer for the State of Utah Department of Commerce, said the Controlled Substance Act was passed in 1995, and the database became available soon after. What is being implemented later this month is an online service where practitioners may access information using the Internet – 24 hours a day.

    Bennion said he”s a little concerned about the public being able to access the information, and how the government is going to establish security.

    “It”s something the general public should not have access to,” he said.

    There are only a select people who do have access to the information.

    According to Keyser, the law permits collecting this information only for 1) people who operate and maintain the database, 2) practitioners who have a controlled substance license, 3) pharmacist who dispense the drugs, 4) state, federal, and local enforcement and 5) individuals themselves can access their own information.

    Trisha Weaver, a pharmacist at the BYU Student Health Center, said she also thinks the database is very helpful.

    “As long as it”s monitored by the health care professionals, it”s a good thing,” Weaver said.

    She also said although they have the database available, they don”t use it very often.

    “You know, there”s a few here and there, but we haven”t really had to access it too much,” she said. “But overall, I think we”re kind of the minority.”

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