ARE WE IN AGREEMENT?

…One Pain Specialist’s Take on the Controlled Substances Prescriber-Patient Agreement 

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With all of the information and misinformation about pain medicines, addiction, and prescription drug abuse, I thought it might be useful to publish a sample of what a “full-bodied” patient-prescriber agreement looks like. More and more states are requiring these for ongoing treatment with powerful medications that have a substantial potential for abuse (i.e. “controlled substances”). Although this version may not be best for everyone (some may be longer, some shorter), my pain management office uses a document similar to this.

So if you have a little time on your hands and want to know what goes into these agreements, here’s my take on what a thorough prescriber-patient agreement looks like.

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INTRODUCTION:

I understand controlled substances medications (i.e. opioid pain medications, tranquilizers, etc.) have a potential for harm and are therefore closely controlled by the local, state and federal governments. I understand that any medical treatment is initially a trial, with the goal of treatment being to improve my quality of life and my ability to function and/or work. My progress will be assessed periodically to determine the benefits of continued treatment. Continued use is dependent on whether my prescribing provider and I believe that the medication usage benefits me. These drugs can be useful, but have high potential for misuse and are therefore closely regulated. This agreement will help my healthcare provider and me and comply with controlled substance regulations. I agree to use opioids (morphine-like drugs) as part of my treatment plan. The success of my treatment depends on trust, honesty and understanding of how opioids are used. I understand that violation of any part of this agreement may result in this medication being discontinued, as well as termination of my relationship with my provider. I agree to the following conditions:

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SECURITY OF THE MEDICATIONS:

I am responsible for keeping my pain medications in a safe and secure place, such as a locked cabinet or safe. I am expected to protect my medications. If my medication is stolen, I will report this to my local police department and obtain a stolen item report. I will also report the stolen medication to my physician. I agree that if my medications are lost, misplaced, stolen, or if I use them up sooner than prescribed, my physician may choose not to replace my medications.  I understand that this opioid medication is strictly for me. I will never give away my medications or sell them to others, because it may endanger that person’s health and is against the law.

FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS:

Unless directed to by my prescriber, I will not alter my medication in any way, and I will take my medication whole. My medication will not be broken, chewed, crushed, injected, or snorted. I am responsible for my opioid medications. I will not allow my medications to be damaged.  I will take my medication exactly as instructed and prescribed. I know that any change in dosage or directions must be approved by my licensed provider. I am responsible for taking the medication in the doses prescribed and for keeping track of the amount remaining. I will not take more than is prescribed.

TIME-LIMITED USE FOR ACUTE CONDITIONS:

I understand that a controlled substance used to treat an acute medical complaint is for time-limited use. I will discontinue the use of the controlled substance when the condition requiring the controlled substance use has resolved.

WHEN OTHER CONDITIONS OR SYMPTOMS ARISE:

I will notify my healthcare provider of side effects that continue or are severe or impair me in any way. I will notify Pain Center by the next business day if I need to visit another physician or need to visit an emergency room due to pain or if I become pregnant.

I agree to not request or accept a controlled substance medication from any other prescriber or individual while I am a patient at Pain Center. However, if another licensed provider, after being made aware of my Pain Center Agreement, still feels it is in my best interest to administer or prescribe a controlled substance for me, I will notify Pain Center by phone by the next business day. I will inform all of my healthcare providers of all medications I am taking, including herbal remedies. I understand that medications, including over-the-counter non-prescription medications can interact with opioid medications and be dangerous.

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NO ILLICIT SUBSTANCES:

I will not use any illicit substances such as cocaine, marijuana, etc. I understand that the use of alcohol together with opioid medications is dangerous and can lead to death. I will promptly inform my Pain Center prescriber if I use or intend to use any of these substances, including alcohol.

KEEPING APPOINTMENTS:

It is my responsibility to schedule appointments for the next refill. I will communicate fully and honestly with my prescriber about my pain level and my activities. I understand that in order to more thoroughly evaluate my plan of care as it pertains to the use of controlled substances, I may have additional visit scheduled at my provider’s discretion. I will keep all my Pain Center appointments.  If I must reschedule, I will notify Pain Center prior to my scheduled time.  If an appointment for a prescription refill is missed, I will request another appointment as soon as possible. I know that immediate or emergency appointments to address medication issues may not be available. However, I understand that I am allowed to seek the services of another healthcare provider in the event of an emergency or acute situation.

REFILLS:

Refills will not be made as an “emergency.” They will be made at planned clinic visits, during regular business hours. I will not expect any medications will be prescribed during the evening or on weekends. I do not expect prescriptions to be written in advance due to vacations, meetings or other commitments. I do not expect my prescriptions to be mailed. I expect that a government issued picture ID will be required to pick up prescriptions.

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ONE DESIGNATED PHARMACY:

I will designate and use only one pharmacy for all of my controlled substance medications and give the Pain Center full permission to communicate with the pharmacist about my medical care and medications.  Unless I have been given authorization by Pain Center, controlled substance prescriptions can only be filled by a pharmacy in the same state as the Pain Center, even if I am a resident of another state. I will allow my prescriber and his or her associates to send a copy of this agreement to my other healthcare providers and/or to the pharmacy where I obtain my prescriptions.

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DRUG TESTING: 

My prescriber may perform drug testing on me. I agree that I may be called at any time to come in to the clinic for a count of all my remaining medications and/or a drug screen and I agree to come that day. I agree to be responsible for any costs this may incur. If requested to provide a urine sample or other type of sample if necessary. If I decide not to provide a urine sample, I understand that my prescriber may change my treatment plan. This might include discontinuation of my opioid medications or complete termination of our patient-prescriber relationship. The presence of a non-prescribed drug or illicit drug in my urine may be cause for termination of our relationship.

SHARING INFORMATION:

I agree to allow my healthcare provider to contact any healthcare professional, family member, pharmacy, legal authority, or regulatory agency to obtain or provide information about my care or actions if the he or she feels it is necessary. I will allow my prescriber and his or her associates to receive information from any health care provider or pharmacist about use or possible misuse of alcohol and other drugs. I will allow my prescriber and and his or her associates to contact my family and friends to monitor my conditions.  Furthermore, I consent to a criminal background check.

PRIMARY CARE PROVIDER RELATIONSHIP:

I have and will maintain at all times a relationship with a primary care provider and keep him or her informed of all medications I am taking. I agree to and understand the requirement that I have an annual preventive health screening and physical exam by my primary care provider. If recommended, I will see a specialist and/or complete a screening exam to help determine whether I am developing an addiction or psychological illness.  I agree to be responsible for any costs this may incur.

FUNCTIONAL GOALS:

I understand that the main treatment goal is to improve my ability to function. I understand that in general, it is unrealistic for patients to expect complete resolution of their chronic pain with any specific treatment or combination of therapies. I understand that it is important to have a conversation with my provider about my treatment plan and set realistic goals for improvement. I pledge to work together with my provider towards improving my pain control and achieving specific functional goals. I understand that functional goals might include increasing physical activity level, resuming a job/hobby or improving the quality of sleep.

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AN “EXIT STRATEGY”:

I understand the concept of an “exit strategy” regarding these medications. I agree that if any of the following goals are not attained this may be evidence of a failure of opioid therapy and discontinuation of some or all of my medications could be the most appropriate plan: (1) meaningful pain control; or (2) acceptable level of function; or (3) tolerable side-effects; or (4) stable and acceptable mental health and behavior: or (5) compliance the plan of care, laws, and regulations.

PATIENT EDUCATION:

I acknowledge that I have been educated on the following matters through verbal or written counseling: (1) proper use; (2) impact on driving and work safety; (3) effect of use during pregnancy; (4) potential for overdose and appropriate response to overdose; (5) safe storage of controlled substances; and (6) proper disposal.

OFF-LABEL USE OF MEDICATION:

All prescription drugs in the US have a label approved by the FDA.  This label provides an indication and dosage for the drug, but neither physician nor patient is legally bound to follow them.  Studies cannot reliably evaluate all the combination treatments in complicated, difficult-to-treat conditions. I understand that my treatment may include “off label” use of medications. 

DISCONTINUATION OF CARE:

I understand that my violation of any of the above conditions may result in re-evaluation of my treatment plan and discontinuation of my medication. I could be gradually taken off these medications or even discharged from the clinic. If my violation involves obtaining controlled substances from another individual, as described above, I may also be reported to my physician, medical facilities and other authorities, including the police.

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I HEREBY AGREE:

I have read this agreement or it has been explained to me by the Pain Center practitioners and/or staff. If I am not currently receiving controlled substances from Pain Center, this agreement does not apply.  However, I understand that this agreement immediately becomes effective if in the future I do receive controlled substances.  I fully understand the consequences of violating this agreement.  I have been explained the risks and potential benefits of these therapies, including, but not limited to, psychological addiction, physical dependence, withdrawal and over dosage. All of my questions regarding the treatment of pain with opioids have been answered to my satisfaction. I hereby agree to participate in the opioid medication therapy and acknowledge that I have received this document.

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice.  This is not medical advice.  This is my personal opinion and has not been endorsed by any individual or entity.  All persons should consult his or her own legal counsel and/or health care providers for advice and guidance.

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First Do No Harm: The Indiana Healthcare Providers Guide to the Safe, Effective Management of Chronic Non-Terminal Pain, Version1.0  http://www.in.gov/bitterpill/docs/First_Do_No_Harm_V_1_0.pdf

Sample Controlled Substance Agreement Developed by The Greater Louisville Medical Society http://kbml.ky.gov/substance-abuse/Pages/default.aspx

Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure, House Bill 1 Ordinary Regulations Effective March 4, 2013 http://kbml.ky.gov/hb1/Pages/House-Bill-1-Ordinary-Regulations.aspx

Medical Licensing Board of Indiana, Emergency Rule (Pain Medications) http://www.in.gov/pla/files/Emergency_Rules_Adopted_10.24.2013.pdf

Indiana Pain FINAL RULE (Effective November 1, 2014):
http://www.in.gov/legislative/iac/20141105-IR-844140289FRA.xml.html

 

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James Patrick Murphy, MD, MMM attended medical school at the University of Louisville, interned in Psychiatry at the San Diego Naval Hospital, studied at the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute, and later served as a Naval Flight Surgeon onboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Enterprise.  He returned to Louisville for residency training in Anesthesiology after which he completed a Pain Medicine Fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Dr. Murphy is board-certified in Anesthesiology, Pain Medicine, and Addiction Medicine. He is President of the Greater Louisville Medical Society, Medical Director of Murphy Pain Center, Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and serves on the board of the International Association for Pain and Chemical Dependency. In May 2013 Dr. Murphy earned a Master of Medical Management degree from the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.

Dr. Murphy’s blog is The Painful Truth. He can be found on TWITTER by searching @jamespmurphymd. His President’s eVoice and other communications & videos can be accessed at the Greater Louisville Medical Society website.