In big move, DEA allows nurses to relay pain medication prescriptions to pharmacies

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CMS updates survey guidelines for antipsychotic drugs in dementia care
CMS updates survey guidelines for antipsychotic drugs in dementia care

The Drug Enforcement Agency has eased off of restrictions that have prevented nurses in long-term care from communicating prescription orders for controlled pain medications to pharmacies.

The DEA has established a system in which nurses at long-term care facilities can be designated as agents of physicians for the purposes of prescribing controlled substances, according to a notice in the Federal Register. One way a nurse can establish his or her self as an agent is through a written agreement with a practitioner. After “agency” status is established, the nurse will be able to relay medication orders to a pharmacy, including prescriptions orders given verbally.

Many long-term care and pharmacy groups, including the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, had opposed the DEA restrictions on prescribing in long-term care facilities, arguing that the rules led to unnecessary delays for residents who need pain medication.

“For many years, ASCP has led the long-term care industry in its pursuit of changes to DEA policies that create delays for dispensing controlled prescription medications destined for residents in long-term care facilities,” ASCP President-Elect Albert Barber said in a statement. “We commend the DEA for clearing the way for improved quality care for patients.”

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