New rules have gone into effect requiring doctors in New York to send prescriptions in to pharmacies electronically instead of handing patients a handwritten prescription slip.
The requirement is intended to help fight prescription painkiller abuse and reduce errors. E-prescribing is part of a nationwide trend, although it’s voluntary, not required, most places. About 60 percent of prescriptions are now sent electronically, Paul Uhrig, chief administrative officer of Surescripts, the leading network for transmitting e-prescriptions, told the Associated Press.
“It’s available in most states. New York is the first to make it mandatory with penalties if you don’t do e-prescribing,” CBS News medical contributor Dr. Holly Phillips told “CBS This Morning.” Doctors who don’t comply could face the possibility of fines, losing their license, or potentially even jail time.
It’s part of an initiative called ISTOP, which stands for Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing. The aim is to keep better track of who’s prescribing addictive painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet and to cut down on patients “doctor shopping” for a physician to get more drugs.
Under the new rules, paper prescriptions or those that are phoned in will no longer be accepted at New York pharmacies. There are some exceptions for medical emergencies and for nursing homes, and some doctors have been granted an extension of the deadline.
What was wrong with old-fashioned paper prescriptions?
While the ISTOP program (described above) may be focused on reducing or eliminating the over-prescribing of addictive drugs by implementing more efficient tracking systems to red-flag a patient’s pending prescription, it’s design also aids in reducing the number of medication mistakes that result from filling the wrong medication for a particular patient or failing to advise a patient of potential drug interactions.
Studies have demonstrated that e-prescribing improves patient safety because pharmacists no longer have to interpret illegible, handwritten prescriptions, thereby reducing the potential for mistakes when filling the requested order. Additionally, super-computing systems can search across networks to establish duplicate orders for the same medication, as well as identify potential risks for drug interactions.