The New York Times highlighted the sad truth that many struggling nursing home residents are suffering because of new regulations intended to limit abuse of prescription drugs. The disagreement centers around the circumstances under which needed drugs can be ordered for residents by nurses, instead of doctors.
Most nursing homes do not have a medical doctor on staff. That means that on many occasions, patients in severe pain would not be able to see a doctor for a day or two or more without being rushed off to the hospital which is both costly and poses health dangers itself. In those instances, nurses would call the pharmacy and get the necessary medication to help ease the suffering resident’s pain while waiting for the next available doctor examination.
However, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration has begun cracking down on that practice-pharmacies can now only dispense medication with a written or faxed prescription from a doctor. The goal of the strict regulations is to crack down on illegal use of drugs. But, that means that in the interim, those nursing home residents simply must endure without the necessary medication. Doctors and nursing home administrators keep urging the Department to take steps to correct the problematic administrative rules. Following a recent Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing, several Senators have urged the US Attorney General to find a solution.