Proposal for Legislation To Create Statewide Database for Doctors, Pharmacists Under Consideration
The office of Sen. Tom Torlakson (D-Concord) is reviewing a proposal for legislation to create a database that would provide doctors and pharmacists statewide with real-time access to patients' medical records to help address prescription drug abuse, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The legislation was drafted by the parents of two children killed in October 2003 by a driver who might have been abusing the painkiller Vicodin. A physician who wrote the driver a prescription and is affiliated with Kaiser Permanente said several different doctors had treated the driver prior to the accident. The physician said the driver had six different prescriptions for Vicodin (Fulbright, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/14).
According to the Contra Costa Times, a transcript of a May 2004 grand jury investigation indicates that Kaiser physicians had prescribed "hundreds" of Vicodin pills and the muscle relaxant Flexeril to the driver in the months preceding the accident. One Kaiser doctor testified that she had prescribed Vicodin to the driver because Kaiser records did not indicate when the driver's Vicodin prescription had been filled last.
Kaiser Permanente Northern California President Mary Ann Thode said that the HMO supports the concept of the legislation, adding that Kaiser would lobby in support of the legislation as more details become available. She said, "We feel that this is a valiant effort at addressing drug abuse" (Gerstman, Contra Costa Times, 1/14). Thode also said Kaiser is implementing a database to allow doctors to access patient's medical records (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/14).
Torlakson spokesperson Robert Oakes said the senator is investigating the state's authority in monitoring prescriptions (Contra Costa Times, 1/14).