Why EPCS Matters: Protecting Against DEA Number Theft

As America continues to face a national public health crisis with prescription drug abuse, the use of paper prescriptions for these highly addictive controlled substances only contributes to the problem. A major issue with printed paper prescriptions is that they advertise prescribers’ DEA numbers in full view. This can lead to fraudulent use of DEA numbers and improper access to these medications.

Last week, a North Carolina woman pleaded guilty after she was caught obtaining more than 8,000 hydrocodone opioid pills and roughly 132 prescriptions – all using a stolen DEA number. A recent survey revealed that 10% of prescribers admitted to having their DEA number stolen or compromised, and 29% of the prescribers know a colleague who has been victim to DEA number fraud.

When a prescriber’s DEA number is stolen, several things can happen.

  • The prescriber may not be able to prescribe for weeks while they wait for a new number from the DEA.
  • A comprehensive investigation into the incident may take place involving the organization’s Board of Physicians or Board of Advanced Practice Nurses.
  • The process of investigating the incident can call for high costs in processing fees, investigation processes, and labor hours, and a loss of productivity.

Implementing Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS) will help to make sure DEA numbers are kept secure and private while still allowing physicians to efficiently issue prescriptions. North Carolina has already enacted legislation mandating EPCS this year in an effort to combat the national opioid epidemic and reduce the risk of forged or stolen prescriptions. Removing paper from the prescribing process allows for a secure chain of trust for care providers, ultimately reducing the risk of fraudulent activities that directly contribute to opioid abuse.

As a leading solutions provider, Imprivata is well positioned to help customers understand the many regulatory DEA requirements for EPCS while ensuring a secure and efficient workflow for pharmacists, providers, and -- most importantly -- patients. For more information, visit our established online resource center: EPCS Insights