DEA Narcotic Tracking Requirements

by | Apr 4, 2023 | EMS, Fire

No matter what industry you work in—EMS, veterinary, wildlife, or another medical field—you likely know that there are DEA narcotic tracking requirements. There are also state and even local requirements that dictate how often an emergency responder needs to record controlled substances.

So, is your agency in compliance with the requirements? How can you protect yourself and your staff from the fallout of drug diversion?

The Basics of Narcotic Tracking Compliance

If you run any professional group that handles controlled substances, whether it’s EMS, veterinary medicine, or a related field, you must keep an inventory of all controlled drugs. The inventory is required as part of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

The CSA was created under President Nixon in 1970. Under the Act, drugs are divided into five classifications or schedules, from the most addictive with the least potential for medical use (Schedule I) to those with a lower potential for abuse (Schedule V). The DEA and FDA are the governing agencies determining where substances fall on the schedules. The DEA narcotics tracking requirements are in place for anyone who handles controlled substances.

No matter where a drug falls on the schedule, it’s considered a “controlled substance” and thus should be inventoried and tracked. For any practice that carries controlled drugs, even for veterinary or wildlife use, there’s a potential liability, licensing requirements, and a requirement to track.

What does it mean to “track” controlled substances? How should those working in EMS or veterinary medicine stay compliant?

Different Types of Drug Prescribers

In emergency medicine, you may quickly administer pain relief for burn victims or someone in a life-threatening situation. Decisions are made fast. While EMS rarely requires professionals to consider the long-term implications and effects of treatment, there are still plenty of times when EMS professionals access and administer controlled substances and are thereby subject to DEA narcotics tracking requirements.

Many of the laws and regulations surrounding controlled substances are in the purview of the pharmaceutical industry. For example, all states now have a PDMP (Prescription Drug Monitoring Program). These databases help prescribers quickly identify concerns about opioids and other drug abuse and misuse in their patients. They are used by pharmacies, hospitals, and in medical practices—those who dispense prescription medications to human patients.

Veterinary and wildlife professionals also handle many controlled substances designed and provided by drug companies to treat animals. Because there is a lower potential for addiction and abuse amongst non-human patients, the PDMP doesn’t apply, but there are still DEA narcotics tracking requirements to hold a license and access the drugs.

But one only needs to look at the rapidly growing news stories of drug diversion and misuse to realize that there are plenty of ways drugs—even those not meant for human treatment or those used in emergency response—can end up on the streets. The need for tracking is quite evident in all fields. For example, the recent rise in “tranq,” a type of heroin mixed with veterinary tranquilizers, has already taken hold in some states.

The DEA’s regulations and requirements under the CSA are there to protect against human misuse of drugs and controlled substances. No matter how you prescribe or what your patients look like, if you have a license and access to controlled substances, you are responsible and regulated to report.

Failing to track and report can lead to significant problems for agencies and practices. There are legal ramifications, including the loss of licensure, hefty fines, and more. For organizations that are already running on tight budgets, one mistake can cost the entire organization.

Narcotics Tracking Protocol

Under federal regulations, licensed handlers of controlled substances must keep a record of their usage. That means logging whenever a drug is dispensed and maintaining an inventory. The inventory should show all the details about the administered drug (date, dosage, remaining balance, and who handled the drug).

In many practices, the logs vary. Some agencies use paper tracking to log their drug use, but there are many cons to using paper under your narcotics tracking protocol:

  • Handwritten reports are hard to read.
  • It’s challenging to organize, monitor, and compile inventory reports.
  • Paper is easily damaged, lost, or destroyed.
  • It’s easy to become complacent with tracking on paper.

Anyone who’s tried to pull together any report at the last minute knows that it’s much more challenging (if not impossible) to organize data days or weeks after the fact. For accurate, consistent reporting, it’s best to record every drug used, every time, right away.

Not only does diligence in reporting help your agency stay organized, but it helps you to keep a handle on inventory, identify any patterns of concern, and monitor issues like expired medications. It’s much easier to catch an error right away than to try to figure out what happened down the road.

Many state and even local requirements exist for emergency responders, ambulance services, veterinary medicine, and other controlled substance handlers. In addition to these varying requirements, the DEA requires practitioners to take an initial inventory and perform a biennial inventory while maintaining a rolling log with two years of data. They will also need to do a final closing inventory if a practice closes. Expired, damaged, or otherwise unusable drugs must also be logged and disposed of.

All practitioners must check with their state licensing guidelines to ensure they’re compliant and performing any additional reports and inventory checks. Again, it’s always much easier to stay current with any inventory logging and DEA tracking requirements.

LogRx is the Solution for a Successful Narcotics Tracking Protocol

Fortunately, there’s an easy solution for tracking controlled substances and implementing a successful tracking protocol. LogRx is a simple system designed by experienced EMS professionals to meet the industry’s unique needs. Avoid legal consequences and fines; protect your practice (and peace of mind) with LogRx.

LogRx makes it easy for organizations to keep track of their inventory of drugs, including narcotics. Stay on top of expiration dates. Know precisely when supplies are running low. There are no worries about misplacement or misuse of drugs because the data is at your fingertips.

LogRx turns your team member’s phones and tablets into a scanner. With a simple snap of the tracking stickers on your bottles or vials, your team can easily record exactly what’s on hand and when it’s used.

LogRx is ideal for fieldwork. Should your team travel out of range, the app works offline. Air transport and wildlife professionals can track dispensing and use and upload the details when they return in range. LogRx helps field personnel do their jobs more efficiently and easily.

Administrators can easily view the status of every medication from the convenient admin portal dashboard. The LogRx dashboard provides real-time tracking. Check expiration dates, monitor inventory, and run reports without hassle or stress. LogRx increases accuracy, reduces staff time, and increases efficiency. It’s like having another team member!

LogRx is an affordable solution to help you comply with DEA narcotics tracking requirements. To learn more about how LogRx can protect your patients, team, and agency, reach out today.

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