House votes to require doctors to check database before prescribing

The Georgia House voted Friday in favor of requiring doctors to review a drug database prior to prescribing controlled substances to patients.

House Bill 249, sponsored by state Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, would require doctors to check the collected information about controlled substances and formalize a mechanism to report prescriptions through an electronic database. The bill also would clarify consequences of violation.

Tanner said he aimed to “strike a balance” with the bill.

“Too many times we in government tend to swing the pendulum too far from one side or the other,” he said. “We wanted to create incentives within this legislation to try to encourage doctors not to overprescribe medication without telling a doctor how to practice medicine.”

The legislation would require all prescribers who have a Drug Enforcement Administration to sign up to use the database by Jan. 1. Periodically, between Jan. 1 and May 31 of next year, the database would be tested to ensure quality operation.

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In July 2018, prescribers would be required to check the database for all Schedule 2 narcotics.

Tanner clarified the occasions when checking the database would not be required, including at-home hospice care and ongoing cancer treatment.

Violations would be handled administratively with boards, not through civil or criminal law, and special care would be taken in situations when the system is down.

“We’re not going to have a patient sitting in a doctor’s office waiting on a prescription because the state’s system is down,” Tanner said.

The bill passed by a vote of 167-1.

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