California uses web-based tool to track suspicious drug use

The state of California has rolled out a new web-based tool that tracks the use of controlled substances, including addictive painkillers such as Oxycontin and Valium. The idea is to help nurses, doctors, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals track potentially duplicative scripts which could feed patient addictions.

The database, known as the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES), has already logged in 100 million prescription entries. Given the size of California's own healthcare system, which includes 7,500 pharmacies and 158,000 prescribers reporting prescriptions each year, CURES is already the largest online prescription-drug monitoring database in the country, according to state Attorney General Jerry Brown.

While providers have been able to access information from cures for years, they'd had to request information via fax, then wait for officials to verify that the requester was a doctor, a process which took a week or so.

Now, doctors, pharmacists, midwives or registered nurses can simply register for access to the site. Then, they can view a patient's entire history of Schedule II, III or IV drug usage for any patient within moments. Some law enforcement officials and medical regulatory boards also will have access.

To learn more about the system:
- read this Health Leaders Media piece