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.”