Changes to Pain Management in Georgia
After Florida's crack-down on "pill mills" in 2010, Georgia had an increase from 10 pain clinics to 140 by the following year. Large numbers of prescriptions were being filled for controlled substances like Xanax, Valium, OxyContin, Lortab, Fentanyl, and amphetamines like Adderall (even though only about 4% of the adult population actually has ADHD).
According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the number of prescription drug overdose deaths increased from 496 in 2008 to 560 in 2010, and that doesn't even include autopsies from several Georgia counties. The legislature took action, and House Bill 178, the Georgia Pain Management Clinic Act, went into effect July 1, 2013. It requires all pain clinics to be physician-owned and subject to licensure and regulation by the Board of Medical Examiners, including criminal backround checks. All pain clinics that dispense controlled substances must also be registered with the Board of Pharmacy.
In conjunction with this, the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency (GDNA) was charged by the Georgia legislature in 2012 to develop an online Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). It went live in June this year. Unfortunately, although MDs and other prescribers like PAs can utilize it, APRNs are not listed on the registration form. Why this was not addressed earlier is unclear, but the status now is that we are waiting for the IT professionals at the Secretary of State's office to add nurse practitioners. Once they do, I will send out an announcement about how to register and utilize the database.
Julie Hannah, VP
Painkiller overdose deaths in the U.S. topped 16,500 in 2010, easily surpassing deaths from heroin and cocaine combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.