In 2012, Texas physicians were granted online access to the Prescription Access in Texas database (PAT). The database gives physicians the real-time ability to query the prescription database and find out which controlled substances their patients have been prescribed by other practitioners.
As of September 1, 2013, an amendment to Texas law (Senate Bill 1643) has changed how the PAT program may be used. The law:
- now allows providers authorized to query the database to include the information gathered in the patient's chart. This is a positive change for health care professionals since the law formerly did not allow inclusion of this information in the medical record.
- now allows pharmacy technicians and licensed nurses “acting under the direction of a practitioner” to be authorized users of the system. The initial law allowed a pharmacist, physician, dentist, veterinarian, podiatrist, advanced practice nurse, or a physician assistant to access the program.
- allows three years’ worth of prescription data to be available for query (expanded from 1 year);
- establishes an interagency work group to evaluate the effectiveness of the prescription monitoring program. The work group “shall proactively engage stakeholders and solicit and take into account input from the public.”
Accessing the database can be helpful if a physician suspects a patient may be receiving prescriptions from other physicians without disclosing them or is exhibiting drug-seeking behaviors. We recommend that physicians consider querying the database regarding any new patient who is currently taking controlled substances, any existing patient who requests an early refill of a controlled substance, or any patient who triggers concern about abuse of controlled substances.