Washington veterinarians now required to report prescriptions

Veterinarians in Washington State will need to begin reporting medications they dispense to their patients starting in October.

Washington is following the example of 36 other states with the launch of its first Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP).

The program, designed as a patient safety tool, will allow practitioners to have access to prescription information before they prescribe or dispense drugs. Washington’s program, dubbed the Prescription Review program, will enable a practitioner to look for duplicate prescriptions, misuse and drug interactions.

The Washington program is placing special emphasis on educating veterinarians about the new prescription reporting requirements.

"We’ve been working with the veterinary association to get the word out," said Chris Baumgartner, director of the PMP. "The association presented the idea, and we worked together because it seemed to be beneficial for both the state and the veterinarians."

The Washington State Department of Health has worked with its vendor, Health Information Designs, Inc., to produce webinars just for veterinarians about the new program.

The webinars have been very well-attended, Baumgartner said. Attendance has neared 200 for each hour-long webinar. Considering that the webinar’s limit is 250 participants, Baumgartner said he considers this a major success.

"We want to not only inform veterinarians about the program and program requirements, but also help them gain an understanding of the technologies involved in the process," Baumgartner said.

Veterinarians will be required to report prescription data at least once a week, including drug name, quantity and patient name. The best approach is for prescribers to pick one day a week that works best for them and report on that day each week, Baumgartner said.

Pharmacies and practitioners that dispense Schedules II, III, IV and V controlled substances in the state must electronically report to the program starting Oct. 7, 2011.

"The most important thing to remember is that we can’t accept mailed or faxed forms – everything must be reported electronically," Baumgartner said.

Veterinarians must only report if they are giving a patient medication to self-administer at home.

"If you are injecting a drug at your practice, that is administering and is exempt from reporting," Baumgartner said. "If you are writing a prescription for medication that is more than a 24-hour supply, that will need to be recorded. If you are giving a patient a supply of drugs to take home, that needs to be recorded as well."

Washington is not the first state to emphasize educating veterinarians about the program, Baumgartner said.

States including Alabama, Arizona, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and New York require veterinarians to report to their state PMP. Not all states require veterinarians to report.

According to the Alliance of States with Prescription Monitoring Programs, PMPs are useful tools that help government officials reduce prescription drug abuse and diversion. Per state law, most PMPs collect federal Schedules II-IV, including narcotics, tranquilizers and stimulants. Twenty-eight states include collection of Schedule V.

The first legislation for PMPs was passed in 1939 when California became the first state to both enact legislation and begin operating its PMP. Hawaii followed suit in 1943, followed by Illinois in 1961.

Washington, Alaska, Montana, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Washington D.C. have all enacted PMP legislation, but their programs are not yet operational.

The Washington Legislature passed a law authorizing the creation of the program in 2007, but the Department of Health suspended the program in 2008 due to the lack of an ongoing operational budget. In the fall of 2010, the department secured new funding to restart the program.

Washington anticipates being able to respond to requests from prescribers by January 2012.