Nurse Practitioners and Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse is rapidly increasing.  As a result, advanced nurse practitioners  are finding themselves at the center of professional licensing board, and even criminal, investigations for misprescribing and/or over-prescribing controlled substances.

The Colorado Prescription Drug Monitoring Program requires all prescribing and dispensing of certain controlled substances to be entered into computers.  Nurse practitioners are encouraged to use the database to cross-check concerns about individual patient use or buying patterns.

Despite access to this information through the database, the DEA recently reported that only 10-15% of healthcare practitioners and pharmacists are utilizing this resource in their practice.

Given the growing number of patients abusing prescribed controlled substances and the government’s interest in deterring this abuse, the nurse practitioner should carefully consider the consequences of prescribing controlled substances without first cross-checking their patient’s use and buying patterns of controlled substances.

Read more: Drug registry often ignored despite growing painkiller abuse – The Denver Post