TYLER, Texas — House Bill 3284, passed during this year’s Texas legislative session, was designed to ensure the Prescription Monitoring Program got off on the right foot.
The Prescription Monitoring Program requires doctors to consult a state prescription database. The database will help doctors keep track of what their patient is currently taking. Lawmakers hope the database will help curb over-prescribing opiates.
Lawmakers and medical professionals say the reason for this delay is to allow more time for physicians and their electronic health records to integrate the program.
"When we met during the last legislative session, there were several bills to deal with the opioid crisis,” Texas Senator Bryan Hughes said.
Hughes says the Prescription Management Program is something the legislature hopes will contribute to remedying the national opioid crisis.
"It's going to be nice to have," Sen. Hughes said. "It's going to be a good tool for physicians, and it should help patients."
However, the reason they are delaying the compliance date for the database, is they want to make sure it will benefit doctors, not hinder them.
"We've heard back from a number of physicians and other providers at the database that it's still not ready yet. It's difficult to navigate, it doesn't talk to the other software that physicians use,” Hughes explained. "We don't want to pass a law that requires people to do something that's impossible. That doesn't work. And so we listened to our constituents. So we hear from folks back home, hear from physicians, hear from other providers who tell us, I need more time."
Some hospitals like Christus Trinity Mother Francis in Tyler have already integrated the Prescription Monitoring Program.
Christus Trinity Northeast Texas Nurse Opioid Coordinator Abigail Riley says it is a positive step for public health.
"Clinicians are able to make sure that there's more compliance with medications and they're also able to look and make sure there are no drug drug interactions. Because sometimes our patients aren't even aware of that with their medications," Riley said. "So it's definitely a check and balance."
Beginning Sunday, September 1, another bill to curb opioid abuse goes into effect.
House Bill 2174 sets a ten day limit on opioid prescriptions and will require electronic prescribing of opioids beginning in 2021 to prevent prescription fraud.