Georgia Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Allow Dentists Access to Rx Data
Rick Allen, Director
Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency


On July 26, the switch was finally flipped to turn on access to allow dentists to register and have access to the Georgia Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). This means that all practitioners licensed by the Georgia Board of Dentistry who have authority to prescribe or order controlled substances can now track how patients use their prescriptions and discover, among other things, if patients are drug shopping. Georgia is one of the last states to implement such a program, and our program is based on the best features seen in other programs.


What Information You Can Access

Georgia dentists can use the Georgia PDMP to determine where (in which pharmacies) their patients are having their controlled substance prescriptions filled. They can also determine if their patients have obtained similar controlled substances from other practitioners and where those prescriptions have been filled. The program will also allow a practitioner to see how many controlled substance prescriptions have been filled in the name of the practitioner. A similar function will allow a practitioner to see how many controlled substance prescriptions have been filling using their DEA permit number.


Why Having Prescription Details are Important

Because pharmacists were able to register for the Georgia PDMP first, almost 1,000 have already registered and begun accessing the system. One pharmacist checked the database for several of his patients who he thought were only using his pharmacy to get their hydrocodone and alprazolam prescriptions filled. To his surprise, he found that ALL of the patients he checked had visited multiple physicians, had visited multiple other pharmacies, and were getting the same type of prescriptions filled over and over again. The pharmacist decided to stop filling prescriptions for these customers. Another pharmacist checked the database for patients she suspected  were doctor-shopping. But to her relief, none of those patients were getting prescriptions filled at any other pharmacy than hers. One dentist who recently joined the system found that multiple prescriptions for controlled substances had been issued under his name without his knowledge. He subsequently discovered that a staff member had forged several prescriptions using his prescription authority. Accessing this system can provide peace of mind for dentists as well as pharmacists.


The System Has More Information Every Day

Even though dentists have just gained access to the PDMP, community pharmacies have been reporting prescription data to the PDMP since mid-May 2013. The pharmacies were required to report their controlled substance prescription data starting with prescriptions filled on September 1, 2012. The reporting numbers have steadily climbed and the database now contains records on close to 15 million prescriptions filled from January through June 2013. In June alone, 2 million controlled substance prescriptions were reported as filled.


How Dentists Can Register for the PDMP

Please take the time to register for your free access to the PDMP. Don’t wait any longer. Some of you have been waiting for almost nine years for access to a PDMP, so now is the time. To register, just follow these directions:

1) Access the Georgia PDMP web site at www.hidinc.com/gapdmp.

2) Once you are on the main PDMP web site page, click on the Practitioner / Pharmacist link located on the left side menu.

3) On the next page, click on “Registration Site” and a log-in menu will appear.

4) On the log-in menu, type “newacct” in the User Name field, then type “welcome” in the Password field, and click on “OK.”

5) The Georgia PDMP Account Registration Form page will appear. Complete this form. Make sure you type in your name EXACTLY as it appears on the Georgia Board of Dentistry web site, otherwise your application will be flagged for further review. Even if you have recently married or had a name change, type in only what is currently shown on the Board’s web site at http://gbd.georgia.gov. When you type in your dental license number, be sure to include the ‘DN0’ in front of your license number. For those of you with two zeros in front of your license number, please include both zeros.

6) After you finish your registration, you are asked to print out the form for your records. Please print out your form for your records!

7) During the registration process, you will be asked to choose if you want to opt out of receiving notices of patients that visit more than 5 prescribers and 5 pharmacies in a month. If you do not choose to opt out, you will automatically receive these notices.

As soon as your application is approved, you will receive an email with further instructions on completing your registration. This email will ask you to select a PDMP User Name and Password. Once you complete your registration, then you can begin accessing the Georgia PDMP database for information on your controlled substance prescriptions.


Restrictions on Using the PDMP

Dentists should take note of the confidentiality requirements imposed by law regarding the use of the PDMP system. Violation of those confidentiality requirements can result in very severe and expensive penalties.

Practitioners eligible to register for the program (those with the ability to write prescriptions for controlled substances) may access the database for the sole purpose of providing medical or pharmaceutical care to a specific patient. A practitioner may not access information
on fellow professionals, staff members, neighbors, or family members unless the individual is a patient for whom the dentist is providing medical or pharmaceutical care. The site contains several screens where providers must confirm that they are only searching for information they are allowed to access.

Unauthorized use of the database comes with some stiff penalties. Should a dentist or other provider knowingly and inappropriately obtain or disclose the information they obtain from the database, the law requires that the provider be punished by imprisonment for up to five years and a fine not to exceed $50,000, or both. Any person who knowingly obtains or attempts to obtain or discloses the electronic data under false pretenses is guilty of a felony and is required to be sentenced to not less than one year nor more than five years, a fine not to exceed $100,000, or both.

Practitioners who have concerns over information they find in the database may not print a profile or report and then share a printed profile or report with ANYONE else, including law enforcement agencies, another health care professional, or even the patient involved. A  practitioner should also never reveal the contents of a PDMP profile verbally or in any other fashion to another person or organization. Even law enforcement agencies may only access the PDMP armed with appropriate search warrants. Dentists are encouraged to consult with their personal attorney should information uncovered in the PDMP cause the dentist to consider personnel or patient dismissal.


Concluding Thoughts

Despite the restrictions the law has placed on the use of PDMP database information, the Georgia PDMP is an excellent tool for prescribers who take the time to use it in order to weed out drug abuse and misuse, and identify patients who are being under-treated by not having their prescriptions filled.

If you have any questions, please contact either HID (the database company operating the Georgia PDMP) using their contact information at www.hidinc.com/gapdmp, or send your questions to the Georgia PDMP managers at GAPDMP@gdna.ga.gov. Thank you.