Politicians in Frankfort who still believe that government edicts can somehow or other deliver the commonwealth from the scourge of prescription drug abuse are once again approaching the issue with a butcher knife instead of a scalpel.
Kentucky House Bill 1, which passed during the special legislative session earlier this year, forces doctors across the commonwealth to utilize a government database called the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting system (KASPER) before prescribing Schedule II or III controlled substances for their patients.
Rather than limiting the hoop-jumping to drugs actually being abused – like hydrocodone and oxycontin – state statute requires doctors to take no fewer than five steps before prescribing any of these drugs
What’s worse, it doesn’t matter whether the patient waiting for treatment is a 6-year-old with a broken arm, a mother giving birth for the first time or a middle-aged drug addict. HB 1 treats all patients the same.
Before prescribing the much-needed medication, the doctor must:
· Obtain a complete medical history and conduct – and document in medical records – a thorough physical of the patient.
· Search for all available information on the patient via the slow and clunky KASPER government database to ensure the patient – even the 6-year-old child – is not a drug addict.
· Create a “written treatment plan.” Don’t confuse this with writing the actual prescription – that comes multiple steps later.
· Discuss the risks of prescribing the medication, and obtain consent to do so from the patient.
· Finally, the doctor can order a couple of pain pills.
It’s ludicrous. Not only must all patients be probed – reminiscent of how elderly passengers are treated the same as ex-cons by the TSA at airports these days – this one-size-fits-all mandate will result in needless delays in patient care.
Before being allowed to deliver medication to a child experiencing the severe pain of tonsillitis, for example, professional physicians must put up with the same kind of handholding we might force on a toddler learning to be potty-trained.
The same story could be told for a man with appendicitis, a mother in labor, or a senior citizen with kidney stones.
The KASPER process is likely to take at least 20 agonizing minutes to patients already in pain. Could that be the difference between life and death in extreme cases?
Still, the worst part of HB 1 goes beyond the needlessly long waits of permanently substituting ice cream cones for the miracle of pain relief when Kentucky kids are being treated for tonsillitis.
It turns doctors who fail to follow its mandates – even for inpatients under their direct care 24/7 – into criminals.
Do the politicians, who themselves are busy stealing our liberties by overregulation and malignant laws, ever consider the impact of such a mandate beyond the next election?
One of the Kentucky Medical Association’s chief concerns with the new law is that doctors – spooked by the risk of losing their license – will refuse to prescribe medication even when their professional opinion calls for such treatment.
The potential of being sent to prison may not be worth the risk of making a mistake in KASPER protocol – leaving those patients depending on their doctor in severe pain.
Jim Waters is acting president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at email@example.com. Read previously published columns at www.freedomkentucky.org/bluegrassbeacon.