Nursing Home Residents May Get their Drugs on Time

DEA makes changes to guidelines that affect pharmacies and nursing homes.

Changes are coming for nursing homes across the country in terms of how pain medications will be delivered to residents.

As reported by a number of news outlets, the DEA issued a new guideline that is expected to address how quickly nursing home residents will receive certain pain killers and anti-anxiety medications.

The new guideline enables nurses employed by nursing homes to call pharmacies directly to order the oral prescriptions for the drugs when properly authorized by physicians. The change was published in the Federal Register under the “Role of Authorized Agents in Communicating Controlled Substance Prescriptions to Pharmacies.” Prior to the new guideline, pharmacists were only permitted to dispense the drugs when they received direct oral or written communication from the doctor. Doctors can now designate nurses as agents to phone the pharmacies directly.

The change is designed to help improve the communication process and deliver the medications at a quicker rate, according to a New York Times article.

The article features an interview with Lynne Batshon, the director of policy and advocacy at the American Society of Consultant Pharmacisits. Bashton is quoted as explaining the thought behind the change as follows:

“The new guidelines should ‘expedite in many cases getting the prescription processed and dispensed by the pharmacist, delivering it to the ultimate user and decreasing the potential for a patient to be in pain or discomfort longer than necessary.”

While the new guidelines may allow for more freedom, the NYT article also discusses the fact that “other important medications, including morphine,” are still not able to be prescribed without performing written or oral confirmation from the doctor."

Senator Herb Kohl, a Wisconsin Democrat and chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, is quoted:

“In certain situations, the doctors and nursing staff in long-term care facilities would still have to jump through hoops in order to get a patient the pain medication they desperately need,” Mr. Kohl said in an e-mail statement. “But obviously we’re pleased to see the D.E.A. making some progress.”

For nursing homes that would like to get started on following the new guidleines, an article in McKinght’s Longterm Care News & Assisted Living explains one way “a nurse can establish his or her self as an agent [of physicians] is through a written agreement with a practitioner.” The article reads, “After “agency” status is established, the nurse will be able to relay medication orders to a pharmacy, including prescriptions orders given verbally.”

Resources:

Agency Acts to Ease Delay of Pills for Elderly — New York Times

In big move, DEA allows nurses to relay pain medication prescriptions to pharmacies — McKinght’s Longterm Care News & Assisted Living

New DEA Guideline Helps Nursing Home Nurses — Guide oNursingHomes.com

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Do you feel the changes will be effective in speeding up the process of delivering these controlled substances to patients?