Seven Helpful Tips to Improve Prescription Security
in Your Medical Practice

With U.S. prescription fraud estimated at more than $5 billion annually, Congress mandated in 2007 that Medicaid outpatient prescriptions will be written on tamper-resistant pads. While tamper-resistant prescription pads are an essential tool in the fight against prescription fraud and drug diversion, they can't do the job alone. You and your office play a major role in deterrence.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) guidelines address counterfeiting, copying and modification. They do not offer guidance in preventing theft or falsely issued prescriptions. As it gets harder to alter or reproduce prescription pads, criminals will become more desperate and prescription pad security will become even more important. That's where you can play a critical role. Here are the steps you can take today to safeguard the prescription pads in your care — and protect your office's reputation.

  1. Use gel pens to write prescriptions to help prevent criminals from "washing" away the original prescription. Most gel pens contain ink with color pigments that are quickly absorbed into a paper's fibers, preventing it from being washed away with chemical solvents. In particular, pens can be found at any local office supply store and in many drug and grocery stores.
  2. Choose a prescription pad solution that offers clear instructions, written on each prescription, informing pharmacists of ways to verify authenticity. This is the best way to ensure all of the security features your prescription pad offers are being utilized.
  3. Ensure doctors and clinical staff keep Rx pads in their pockets; not on desks, atop counters or in exam rooms where they could be stolen. For electronic prescribing solutions, be certain to keep the drawer or chamber where the computer prescription paper sits locked at all times. Store Rx pads in a locked cabinet or drawer after hours.
  4. Conduct regular and random inventory audits to instill an understanding that crimes will be detected. The best way to ensure all pads are accounted for is by using pads that feature sequential numbering similar to how banks number checks for personal and business accounts.
  5. Limit access to Rx pads to only those who use them. By controlling access, you can prevent unauthorized individuals from activating the issuing system. You should also check to be sure your Rx supplier maintains strict process controls over Rx pad production, storage and delivery. Standard printing and storage processes are not sufficient for prescription pads.
  6. Use teaming — assigning multiple individuals to execute tasks such as issuance and/or reconciliation to make it harder for a perpetrator to process an unauthorized activity without detection.
  7. Report any prescription theft or abuse to local pharmacies, the State Board of Pharmacy, and any required regulatory agency.

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