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Updates to Pain Medication Management: Narcotics, Controlled Substances
Virginia Mason Medical Center would like to inform you of our organization’s practice regarding how we manage the medical care of patients being treated with narcotic pain medication and other controlled substances. These practices also relate to how we manage dispensing of prescriptions for these medications and are necessary to meet State and Federal guidelines for the prescribing of controlled substances by medical care providers.
Here are some important points we want you to be aware of:
No refills or changes in prescriptions of a controlled substance will be considered via telephone call. Any patient who is obtaining these pain medicines from a Virginia Mason provider must do so in a face-to-face appointment. We will make every effort to make available an appointment with one of our providers as soon as we are able. This may not be with your primary provider. Please make sure you have an appointment before your prescription refill will be needed so you don’t find yourself without medication.
Urine drug screening will be required from time to time. The reason for screening is to ensure you are taking the medications prescribed and to help us safely treat you with pain medications. These tests may show the presence of other medications or presence of illegal drugs that a person may be taking but may not usually report to their physician. Please understand that this is for your own safety and for public safety. Urine drug screenings are used by all of our providers as part of a quality oversight program. They are strongly supported by the new Washington State law. The urine screening is a part of the treatment of your pain with narcotic medications.
We know these tests can by very costly. The final cost to you depends on your insurance. While we want to do anything we can safely do to keep your out-of-pocket health costs down, the price of this test and the kind of insurance you have are things that are outside of your provider's control. If your insurance does not cover the urine drug screening and you need help paying your charges, we encourage you to apply for Charity Care. Applications are available from Patient Financial Services staff located in the main lobbies of the Buck and Lindeman Pavilions at our Seattle Main Campus or the Financial Services Representatives at our regional clinics. To request an application by phone, please call (206) 223-6601 or (800) 553-7803.
In general, stable prescriptions (not changing or being adjusted by a specialist) should be handled by your primary care physician. Your Virginia Mason providers will work closely to refine the program that will work best for you. If, under unusual circumstances, your condition requires ongoing management, regular appointments will be required so your provider can assess response to treatment, any adjustments that should be made and also provide prescriptions for medicines in that appointment time.
Your health and well-being are of utmost concern to us and these policies are important for us to ensure that you get the best care possible.
If you have any questions about these changes, please feel free to ask you care provider at your next visit.