Prescriber and pharmacist understanding of revised Rhode Island pain management regulations

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Introduction: Federal agencies and national associations have implemented action plans in response to the opioid crisis. Furthermore, over 30 states have enacted legislation with opioid-related restrictions, guidance, or requirements. Following recommendations from the governor-appointed Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force, the Rhode Island Department of Health developed an original and updated version of Pain Management Regulations in March 2017 and July 2018, respectively. Our study aimed to identify disparities in interpretation and misconceptions of the updated Rhode Island Department of Health new Pain Management Regulations. Methods: Our 29-question survey evaluated pharmacist and prescriber knowledge of regulations, with special attention given to pain management in patients with cancer. Results: Thirty-two prescribers and 33 pharmacists completed the survey. The survey identified significant variance in regulation knowledge. Pharmacists correctly identified diagnosis exclusions 13–84% of the time, with a much greater understanding when diagnosis language was used instead of ICD-10 codes. Prescribers correctly identified exclusions 24–46% of the time, with little difference noted when using diagnosis language versus ICD-10 codes. The majority (59.3%) of pharmacists misclassified patients with no prescription dispensed in 30 days as patients who would be considered opioid-naïve. Both prescribers and pharmacists commonly misidentified the frequency with which the prescription drug monitoring program needs to be checked, although in both scenarios were stricter than the regulations themselves. In addition, there were significant differences in interpretation regarding naloxone co-prescribing requirements and patient awareness of naloxone co-prescribing between prescribers and pharmacists. Conclusion: Our findings outline several misinterpretations that affect access to chronic and cancer-related pain opioid prescriptions, despite several Rhode Island Department of Health-initiated interventions. When adopting regulations, states should proactively develop educational initiatives to avoid access challenges for patients with diagnoses of exclusion.

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Journal of Oncology Pharmacy Practice