'Doctor shopping' a problem say East Texans

By Philippe Djegal - email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - It's a growing problem for pharmacists nationwide. Drug abusers getting multiple prescriptions at different hospitals, often for the same meds. It's called "doctor shopping."

"Is prescription drug abuse a problem in Tyler?" I asked Dr. Meg Reitmeyer, an endocrinologist at Trinity Clinic.

"Yes," she replied.

"I have been quote burned before by patients telling me a story that the medicine has been stolen or that they lost it or something like that," said Dr. Kyle James.

"The truth is, until we have a universal system, if someone's lying to us, we can't always know that," said Reitmeyer.

Which is why the Texas Department of Public Safety is developing a database that all doctors will have access to, detailing the medications the patient has been prescribed. But, as of now, that database is still a work in progress.

"A patient got a 130 hydrocodone just two weeks earlier and they came to me [and] told me their story," said James. "I was seeing them for the first time, and [they were] asking me for medications. And...I didn't have a record on that or anything like that."

So, he gave the patient just enough meds to last until he could pull their medical records.

"I got a call back from the pharmacy saying this guy just got a prescription for 'x' number of them a couple weeks ago," said James. "Do you still want me to fill his prescription? I said no."

If a doctor at ETMC prescribes a patient medication that patient could then theoretically walk down the street to trinity mother Frances and have a doctor write up another prescription for the same meds.

"It's a big problem, and people can die from that," said James. "People do die from opiate overdoses almost daily."

It's called doctor shopping. The second doctor would be in the dark because hospitals don't have access to the medical records from other hospitals.

"They're on two or three different sedatives and doctor 'A' never knew that doctor 'B' gave it, and these patients are walking around like zombies," said Reitmeyer.

And, often at their own expense. Right now, 38 states have or are developing databases to track patient's prescription drug history.

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