A revamped state database launching Thursday allows Utah doctors to punch in their patients’ names to see if they are abusing opioids or at risk of becoming addicted.
A limited database has existed for several years in Utah. But the new version gives prescribers of painkillers a more immediate snapshot of whether they should prescribe, and how much.
It is part of an effort to combat an overdose epidemic in the state, officials told the Utah Legislature’s health interim committee Wednesday. Every month in Utah, an average of 24 people die from opioid overdoses, according to the Utah Department of Health, resulting in the state having among the highest rankings in the nation for drug overdose deaths.
Developed by three state agencies including the Health Department, the new dashboard will quickly show — using color-coded alerts — how many prescribers and pharmacies the patient has visited in past six months, and how many opioids they have obtained, said Melanie Wallentine, the controlled substance database manager with the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing.
Officials said there are more than 74 million Utah controlled substance records in the system, and the state has data-sharing agreements with nine other states. Doctors can now see up to five years of a patient’s prescription history.
Sen. Brian Shiozawa, R-Cottonwood Heights, who is a doctor, said the dashboard would also be “very powerful” to show to his patients, in an effort to demonstrate how many opioids they are consuming.