New York Medicaid patients may have been overprescribed opioids, state audit finds

Medicaid patients treated for opioid-use disorder in New York may have received  prescription opioids from sources outside their treatment — a potentially lethal oversight,  the state comptroller's office revealed in a recent audit, according to the Democrat & Chronicle.

Here are five things to know:

1. The audit was released Nov. 26 by the New York Department of Health and holds records from October 2013 to September 2017.

2. The audit shows a total of 18,786 Medicaid recipients received an additional 208,198 opioid prescriptions outside of their treatment.

"The state Department of health should take steps to help treatment programs and healthcare providers work together to prevent overdoses that could lead to hospitalization or death," New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said.

3. The New York Department of Health indicated that large number of patients were treated in state-funded centers. New York opioid prescriptions are monitored through the online database called Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing, which has been used since 2013 to crack down on illicit opioid prescriptions.

4. Physicians prescribing opioids are required to consult the I-STOP database before writing prescriptions for Schedule II, III and IV controlled substances. Treatment centers are not required to share patient's medication on I-STOP. 

5. About 85 of the 1,065 perceptions received coordination consent, while coordination only happened 59 times. The New York Comptroller's Office urged the state health department to remind opioid treatment providers of the importance of coordinating patient care with clinicians prescribing outside of the programs.

"The department takes seriously its obligation to prevent inappropriate dispensing of opioid medications and is reviewing alternatives to strengthen existing requirements and procedures," the health department said.

More articles on opioids:

ERs see spike in meth-related hospitalizations
Vermont hospital's needle-exchange program offers addiction treatment, too
Opioid prescriptions fall by 25%, Scripps Health reports

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