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How Instinct Can Help Veterinary Teams with Controlled Substance Reporting

How Instinct Can Help Veterinary Teams with Controlled Substance Reporting

The regulations around controlled substances seem to get more intense every year. There are rigorous record-keeping rules, stringent federal, state, and pharmacy board regulations, and even your state veterinary board’s controlled substance requirements.

It’s a lot to keep track of, and it’s no surprise these continually expanding regulations can feel overwhelming. In most cases, they introduce more demands on our already busy staff. As you might expect, these regulations are a common discussion point in our hospitals, and we’re often asked how Instinct can help.

📋 Why Controlled Substance Reporting is Top of Mind

Here’s a quick refresher on the state of the opioid epidemic in the US and how shifting regulations are relevant to veterinary practices:

  • About 1 in every 30 Americans is currently suffering from a substance use disorder related to prescription opioids. So that means—statistically speaking—if you see 30 clients in a day or have 30 colleagues at your veterinary hospital, one of them is dealing with an opioid use disorder.
  • Nearly 130 people die every day from an opioid-related overdose.
  • Accidental overdose is now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 years old.
  • Deaths caused by the misuse of synthetic opioids like tramadol and fentanyl, commonly used in veterinary medicine, have been increasing by about 20% year-over-year.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has merely added fuel to the fire. Social isolation, economic stress, death or illness of family members and friends—these factors have all contributed to the increase in the potential for drug diversion.

🩺 Our Role in the Veterinary Practice

As medical professionals, we should be especially aware of the signs and effects of substance use disorder in our families and communities. Unfortunately, we all know that our staff, colleagues, and clients are not immune, and we must take this risk very seriously.

Thankfully, there are great resources that can help. The AVMA has detailed state-by-state support mechanisms for veterinarians and their staff, including programs that provide peer assistance, professional recovery, diversion and dependency support, and more.

The VIN Foundation offers no-cost, confidential counseling for those affected by any type of stressor, including difficult work situations, depression, and addiction.

📜 Regulations Making a Difference

All 50 US states have now established Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs). These are state-run databases used to track and monitor all prescriptions for controlled drugs.

These databases allow pharmacists and prescribers to collaborate to reduce doctor shopping and pharmacy abuse. If prescribers and pharmacists can check with each other about what they are prescribing and dispensing, it becomes more difficult for a person to obtain double prescriptions or medications.

States with PDMP laws and regulations that either govern or exempt veterinarians

Currently, 19 states now have a PDMP that requires veterinarians to report and query the system, and this number is growing each year. In 6 states, veterinarians are required to query the system before prescribing a controlled substance. Sound complicated? We can help.

💁🏽 How Instinct Can Help

We recently launched our new Controlled Substance Report for Instinct Treatment Plan and Instinct EMR users. This new report can be emailed to your hospital distribution list daily, weekly, or monthly and includes the following details:

  • Product ID of the controlled substance
  • Label name, unit of measurement, and the prescribed/administered amount
  • The doctor assigned to the patient at the time the treatment was completed
  • Name and PIMS ID for the treated patient
  • The name, address, and phone number for the animal’s primary owner
  • Where the controlled substance was entered into the software

This report should make it relatively easy for you to get the required data into your state PDMP. If you’re an Instinct hospital already and don’t have access to these reports yet, get in touch, and we’ll point you in the right direction.

Although our Controlled Substance Report is a meaningful step in the right direction, we’re not stopping there. We’re also actively building a robust integration with medication cabinets (our CUBEX inventory management connection is live) to further enable automated reporting into state PDMPs.

In addition, our new Instinct Scripts platform will enable veterinary hospitals to send electronic prescriptions for controlled substances (EPCS) to outside pharmacies in the future, meeting all state and federal requirements.

One last resource gem: If you’re licensed in one of the 17 states that now require veterinarians to complete continuing education about opioids or controlled substances (or if you just want to learn more), our friends at have created a comprehensive course on these topics that fulfills these state CE requirements. Even better, they’re offering our Pick the Brain readers a 50% discount on their Opioid 411 course.

We are deeply committed to helping hospitals navigate the evolving regulatory landscape around controlled substances so if there’s more we can do to assist you, please reach out to our team. 🧡