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State survey of medical boards regarding abrupt loss of a prescriber of controlled substances

Leah Sera, PharmD, Micke Brown, BSN, RN, Mary Lynn McPherson, PharmD, Kathryn A. Walker, PharmD, Wendy Klein-Schwartz, PharmD, MPH


Objectives: The purpose of the study was to evaluate states’ experiences with abrupt changes in controlled substances (CS) prescribing, to determine whether states have action plans in place to manage such situations, and describe the components of any such plans.

Methods: A survey of executive directors of 51 medical boards was conducted to evaluate states’ experiences with abrupt changes in CS prescribing, the extent of consumer complaints attributed to these events, and the types of plans in place to manage these situations.

Results: Forty-six executive directors of medical boards responded. Twenty boards (43.5 percent) confirmed that their state had experienced abrupt loss of CS providers and 11 (55 percent) of these executive directors indicated that the loss resulted in increased consumer complaints. The majority of executive directors (86 percent) had no action plan. Six executive directors reported some type of action plan or process consisting of regulatory action, patient-provider connection, professional education, patient education, or public notice.

Conclusions: Most states do not have operational plans in place. However, a few have key strategies that may be useful in addressing potential problems following abrupt loss of a CS prescriber. State medical boards can play a significant role in the development of comprehensive preparedness plans to mitigate damage from the loss of CS prescribers in the community.


controlled substances, opioid prescribing, emergency management

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