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In an effort to eliminate the “Pill Mill” situation here in Florida, the State has passed a major new law, which totally reforms how doctors are allowed to prescribe pain medications. As of July 1, 2011, most physicians who are not pain management specialists are no longer authorized to dispense Schedule II or Schedule III controlled substances (i.e. pain medications) at all, with these few exceptions:

– In connection with specified surgical procedures, in certain time frames
– In the health care system of the Department of Corrections
– In approved clinical trials
– Methadone, in a licensed treatment program
– For hospice patients

Not to worry, our surgical patients can still get prescriptions for pain medications for a recent surgery. Additionally, there are also limitations on the amount of medication that can be prescribed at one time.

Now, in order to receive a prescription of pain medications for the treatment of chronic pain, (as opposed to acute post-operative pain) the following items must be completed:

– a written medical history and physical exam
– Written individualized treatment plan for pain management
– Written controlled substance agreement
– Regular follow-up appointments at least every 3 months

These requirements won’t be an issue for real pain management specialists, who do these things already as a matter of routine. Doctors that prescribe pain medication for the treatment of chronic pain must have this status designated on their state practitioner profile, and must meet certain requirements. They will probably be subject to more inspections from the Department of Health.

Editor’s note: I think this law will tighten up a lot of loose prescribing habits. While it means no more office dispensing of pain medications, that is not something I ever did anyways – and if it helps get Florida’s rampant drug problem under control, I’m certainly willing to put up with the special prescription pads and other minor inconveniences that are now required.

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