Within the past several years, several pieces of opioids legislation updating Pennsylvania's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) law and also setting certain prescribing practices for opioids and benzodiazepines have been signed into law.
Here's a basic overview of the PDMP querying requirements as well as exceptions to those requirements.
Practitioners licensed to prescribe in Pennsylvania are required to query the PDMP:
- For each patient the first time the patient is prescribed a controlled substance by the prescriber for purposes of establishing a baseline and a thorough medical record; or
- If a prescriber believes or has reason to believe, using sound clinical judgment, that a patient may be abusing or diverting drugs.
- Each time a patient is prescribed an opioid drug product or benzodiazepine by the prescriber.
- Prior to certifying a patient for medical marijuana.
In short, prescribers must query the database every time they prescribe benzodiazepines and opioids. For all other controlled substances, the first two query requirements apply (i.e. for the first time prescribing in order to establish a medical record and if there is suspicion of abuse or diversion of drugs).
Exceptions to the Querying Requirement
There are exceptions to the querying requirement:
- If a patient has been admitted to a licensed health care facility or is in observation status in a licensed health care facility, the prescriber does not need to query the system after the initial query (meaning for each patient the first time the patient is prescribed a controlled substance by the prescriber for purposes of establishing a baseline and a thorough medical record) as long as the patient remains admitted to the licensed health care facility or remains in observation status in a licensed health care facility.
- For ED prescribers, querying is not required for any medication provided to a patient in the course of treatment while undergoing care in an emergency department. This exception only applies in the emergency department. It does not apply in urgent care centers or when a patient is in observation status in a licensed health care facility.
- When a patient is prescribed a non-narcotic Schedule V controlled substance for the treatment of epilepsy or a seizure disorder, the prescriber does not need to query the system.
For additional information Pennsylvania's opioid and PDMP laws, check out PAMED's Quick Consult publication "A Physician's Guide to Pennsylvania's Opioid Laws."
You'll find answers to frequently asked questions on opioid prescribing limits in various facilities, prescribing opioids to minors, and more.