Medicare Should Pay Closer Attention to Patient Prescriptions

ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. A recent investigation by ProPublica has found that Medicare has failed to monitor drugs that patients are receiving. This has led to doctors and health professionals prescribing large quantities of drugs to patients that have severe risks associated with them. These drugs can potentially be “harmful, disorienting or addictive,” according to the Washington Post. Records have also revealed that some physicians have given their patients drugs that could ultimately lead to death. Other physicians are using drugs in ineffective or unsafe ways according to the records.

The Freedom of Information Act allows the prescribing practices and identities of doctors and other health care providers to be public for the first time. ProPublica is able to release information regarding healthcare professionals. The information made public does not release the patients name or the reasons why they are prescribed a particular drug. According to ProPublica, health care professionals wrote more than 500,000 prescriptions for Soma, also known as carisoprodol, that patients 65 years of age and older should avoid. Risky drugs that can be harmful for seniors are listed on ProPublica . It also states how often they are prescribed. These findings can inform patients about drugs they should avoid and information about their physician or health care professionals.

Medicare has access to data about its patients, their diagnosis and the medical services they receive. Medicare can determine if the drugs their patients are being prescribed are appropriate for their conditions.

However the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the job of monitoring the prescribing of drugs falls to the private health plans that administer the program. The government should not be in control of that according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Many other experts in monitoring prescription drugs say Medicare should use its data to investigate, prevent and monitor the prescribing patterns of drugs. In addition they should take steps to restrict unsafe practices from happening. Medicare is simply putting their patients at risk for not handling the situation according to some experts.

The question pending in most minds is why physicians are prescribing drugs improperly. Most of the time physicians feel pressure from families and friends of their patients. Other physicians have relationships with drug companies that influence which drug they prescribe. This results in physicians acting in inappropriate and unprofessional ways.
ProPublica’s examination also showed that Medicare failed to act against providers who have been suspended or disciplined by other regulatory authorities. Research showed that doctors often don’t keep up with the latest studies and drug warnings.

In a recent case an elderly women was put in a nursing home under the care of a man whose license was restricted since 1998. However the family of the elder women did not know this information, nor did they understand the doctor’s history of prescribing medicine at one of the highest rates in the country. The woman experienced many health issues while under this mans care and later led to death of this woman. If the family would have known about the care of their family member, death could have been prevented.

ProPublica has created an online tool called Prescriber Checkup, to allow anyone to search for individual providers and see which drugs they prescribe. You can compare your doctor to others in his or her specialty and see which drugs they choose prescribe. This has been available to pharmaceutical companies, but never to the public.This ensures that you are a loved one is treated with the utmost professional care. Frequently asked questions about Prescriber Checkup can be found on their website.

If you or someone you know may be prescribed a drug that could be harmful, do not let it go unnoticed. Research any physician or health care professional on Prescriber Checkup for a review about your physician or health care professional to ensure you or a loved on is receiving the best care possible. It can be easy for issues like this to be over looked. Your life and other lives are too previous to let something severe happen. It is necessary to catch issues before they get worse.

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