The episodic nature of the urgent care setting makes it a popular target for opioid addicts “doctor shopping” for someone new to write prescriptions. As such, urgent care clinicians must remain always-vigilant for ways to help stem rampant opioid addiction. One tool that’s built into the urgent care electronic medical record systems (eprescribing) can be a valuable weapon in that fight. Where a paper script—or, worse, a whole pad—can be lost or stolen, an electronic order goes directly from the EMR to the pharmacy. While states may start requiring that narcotic pain medications be prescribed electronically—New York does so already—it may make sense to make that policy in your urgent care center. Atul Gawande, MD, MPH proposes that surgeons adopt that practice in a new commentary published in Annals of Surgery. In it, he calls his fellow surgeons “unwittingly enablers or addiction” and suggests they give patients nonopoid medications unless they’re confident that a narcotic is truly necessary, and that they prescribe the fewest number of pills necessary—pieces of advice that could apply just as easily in the urgent center.
Can ePrescribing Help Urgent Care Fight Against Opioid Addiction?