“The large percentage of doctors and nurses are trying to do the right thing, and the large percentage of patients are trying to do the right thing,” Kelly told VICE. “What you want is to make it easier for people who are legitimately prescribing for people who need it, but you also want to make it really hard for people who are misbehaving.”
The problem is that many hospitals and pharmacies haven’t embraced electronic prescriptions for controlled substances (colloquially known as EPCS), in part because the process is complicated. The DEA requires two-factor authentication—meaning the doctor has to verify his or her identity in two different ways—before prescribing a controlled substance. The DEA requires two of the following factors: something you know (like a password), something you have (like a USB drive or chip stored separately from the computer), and something you are (biometric information, like fingerprints).
Those requirements can deter hospitals and pharmacies from adopting electronic prescribing. At the same time, “upwards of 10 percent of [healthcare providers] report having their DEA number stolen,” Kelly told VICE. “When I write a [paper] prescription of Percocet, my DEA number is on it. So someone can take that and create a fake prescription, sign it with my crappy signature, and put my DEA number, and go to the pharmacy. Sometimes it works! And with [electronic prescribing] that stops right away.”
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