Health providers get improved tools to monitor prescription drug abuse

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JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — Prescription drug abuse is a problem across the county and right here in mid-Michigan.

But now health care providers  have enhanced tools to make sure potentially dangerous drugs aren’t over-prescribed to patients.

As a nurse practitioner at the Center for Family Health in Jackson, Liz Findley uses the MAPS program daily.

“Make sure that they’re getting their medication that I’ve prescribed, and also making sure they’re not getting medication from any other providers,” Findley said.

MAPS stands for Michigan Automated Prescription System.

The state recently pumped in more than $2 million to improve the online system that can only be accessed by health providers and law enforcement.

“Before we had to wait 5, maybe 10 minutes and now I hit submit and there is their record,” Findley said.

Health providers can now see a patient’s narcotic prescription history going back several years and into other states.

The improvements were made to make sure these powerful drugs are not over-prescribed and lead to addiction.

“A patient comes in with a broken leg, or something short term, and then when the doctor determines they didn’t need it anymore, then they move onto heroin because it’s cheaper,” Findley said.

The Michigan Pharmacists Association worked with the state to make these improvements.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said CEO Larry Wagenknecht.

Wagenknecht says while the updates were badly needed, they aren’t a cure-all to prescription drug abuse.

He says providers will still need to read between the lines.

“What the system cannot do is determine is whether or not the person is abusing or not abusing. There are some behaviors that can show up but it’s never a guarantee,” Wagenknecht said.

The CEO says providers will still be able to glean a lot of information from the improved version of MAPS, and they should make sure to implement the program into how they care for patients.

Findley says MAPS is just one of many tools that can help fight this problem.

“I think it’s on the providers to be diligent about their prescribing habits,” Findley said.

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