OBN Urges Telehealth Visits For Patients Needing Prescription Refills
Oklahoma’s drug enforcement agency wants to keep the public safe from the coronavirus (COVID-19) while also keeping dangerous prescriptions out of the hands of some citizens.
The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics urged doctors on Monday to limit their contact with patients needing prescription refills. Agency officials said that it is acceptable to not have a patient come in for an office visit.
“They can do it over the phone,” said Mark Woodward, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics. “Any type of telehealth will be acceptable during this unique time.”
The required office visit for patients on narcotic drugs was temporarily lifted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency last week and the OBN followed their lead.
“We’re asking that doctors use their best judgment and they can go ahead and call in a refill without physically seeing a patient,” said Woodward.
It has taken awhile for doctors to get OBN’s new directive. Patients are growing concerned about doctor visits as COVID-19 spreads across the state.
“I emailed the governor, the mayor,” said Kim, local patient. “I’ve talked to the Oklahoma Health Department. I’ve called the COVID-19 hotline.”
Kim said after finally getting a letter from the OBN for her doctor, he rescheduled for a telehealth visit.
She worried that not all metro doctors are switching over fast enough to keep at-risk populations safe.
“Fifty percent of them are elderly that come in the doctor’s office when I’m there,” said Kim. “They’ll be exposed. They’re limiting the people in there but that doesn’t mean it’s not on the surface. Doesn’t mean it’s not in the air.”
The OBN recently fielded dozens of calls from doctors and healthcare workers about how to handle people on narcotic prescriptions.
“We want to support our health system and make sure that there’s not unnecessary contact of additional people,” said Woodward. “Who are going in to see their physicians and hospitals that don’t need to.”
The OBN does not have a time frame on how long telemedicine will be used for prescriptions. Officials said it will be used as long as it is needed.