How to Use EHRs to Monitor Patients Who Are Taking Fentanyl

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substance abuse ehr

Are you aware of the potential risks of fentanyl misuse? For pain relief and anesthetic purposes, fentanyl, a powerful opioid medication, is commonly used. Yet, the rising cases of illicit drugs have caused serious concerns about adverse fentanyl effects on people’s health. 

Healthcare providers face a challenging situation where they need to balance the need for effective pain treatments with the associated risks of fentanyl misuse. But here’s some good news—electronic health records (EHRs) can address these compliance hurdles while boosting patient safety. 

EHR software platforms offer immense potential for pain centers to manage their patients’ care delivery more efficiently and follow regulatory requirements. With tailored EHR systems, providers can diligently monitor patients’ prescribed fentanyl and lessen the risks associated with abuse.

Are you ready to learn how substance abuse EHR systems can help pain centers and clinics ensure patients receive the appropriate treatment? This comprehensive guide offers a detailed understanding of EHR systems’ benefits. So, let’s dive into it and discover the potential of EHRs in managing patients who are taking fentanyl.

What Is Fentanyl and How Potent Is It?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid painkiller that is more potent than morphine. Healthcare providers recommend patients take this medication to soothe severe pain that other opioid drugs cannot relieve. Additionally, clinicians prescribe fentanyl during surgery or to manage post-operative pain. 

But whether a doctor prescribes it or it is obtained illegally, fentanyl can be dangerous and requires careful monitoring. This powerful opioid can be prone to misuse, so doctors must ensure that patients do not exceed the correct fentanyl dosage.

Understanding the Fentanyl Crisis

The risks associated with fentanyl use are profound due to its potency. Even a tiny amount of this opioid can cause overdose and death, mainly when used without medical supervision or combined with other substances. Common risks include respiratory depression, addiction, and overdose.

The current state of the fentanyl crisis is alarming, with a significant increase in overdoses and fatalities linked to both prescription and illicit fentanyl. Fentanyl warnings have prompted law enforcement agencies, public health authorities, and healthcare professionals to intensify efforts to address the crisis through increased surveillance, education, and access to addiction treatment services.

Yet, the illicit fentanyl market continues to pose a formidable challenge, highlighting the urgent need for comprehensive strategies to combat opioid misuse and prevent further loss of life.

As an EHR software provider committed to supporting your clinic’s patient care endeavors, 1st Providers Choice recognizes the importance of understanding fentanyl and implementing effective monitoring strategies within our systems.

Monitoring Patients on Fentanyl

Keeping a close watch on patients prescribed with fentanyl is critical to ensure their safety and well-being throughout treatment. Regular monitoring enables specialists to assess the medication’s effectiveness, manage side effects, detect signs of dependency, and prevent overdose. 

Also, close monitoring via an electronic medical record or EMR software enables timely adjustments to dosage or treatment plans.

Adverse Effects Associated with Fentanyl Misuse

Mishandling fentanyl can lead to various adverse effects and risks, including:

– Respiratory depression

– Sedation

– Confusion

– Dizziness

– Nausea

– Constipation

– Tolerance

– Dependence

– Addiction

Monitoring for these harmful effects is essential to address any complications and ensure the safe continuation of treatment. Additionally, observing for signs of misuse is crucial to mitigate the potential for overdose or other adverse outcomes.

Frequency of Patient Monitoring

The frequency of monitoring patients on fentanyl class varies based on individual factors, including the patient’s medical history. During initial titration periods and periodically after that, healthcare providers should closely monitor patients for pain control, assess adverse effects, and look for signs of opioid misuse. 

Guidelines for Fentanyl Monitoring

Several established protocols and guidelines provide recommendations for monitoring patients on opioids, including fentanyl. These guidelines often emphasize the importance of these elements:

– Thorough assessments

– Patient education

– Informed consent

– Risk assessment

– Urine drug testing

PDMP (prescription drug monitoring program)

Healthcare professionals should incorporate these guidelines into their practice to ensure consistent and effective monitoring of patients on fentanyl.

Utilizing EHRs in the Fentanyl Crisis

EHRs and EMRs are vital tools in the struggle against the fentanyl crisis. They offer a comprehensive approach, including enhanced patient monitoring and streamlined prescription management. 

Through substance abuse EMR software, clinicians can track critical data points for patients on fentanyl:

Medication tracking and prescription history: Recording detailed information about fentanyl prescriptions, dosages, refills, and dispensing history enables providers to monitor medication adherence and make informed clinical decisions.

PDMP (Prescription Drug Monitoring Program): Integration with PDMP databases allows healthcare professionals to access records of patients’ controlled substance prescriptions, assisting in identifying potential misuse, diversion, or polypharmacy issues.

EPCS (Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances): EPCS functionalities streamline the prescribing process for fentanyl and other controlled substances. This feature enhances accuracy while minimizing the risk of fraudulent prescriptions or unauthorized access.

Alerts for drug interactions and contraindications: Real-time alerts for potential drug interactions, allergies, or contraindications help prevent adverse events and ensure safe prescribing practices, particularly in patients with complex medication regimens.

Dosage tracking and adjustment records: Maintaining detailed records of fentanyl dosages, administration routes, and adjustments eases ongoing monitoring of treatment efficacy, tolerance development, and adverse effects.

Integrated patient portal: Providing patients with secure access to their medication records, treatment plans, and educational resources via integrated patient portals promoted transparency and adherence to prescribed regimens.

Data extraction for tracking and reporting: EHRs ease data extraction and analysis capabilities, allowing clinics to generate reports and track outcomes related to fentanyl prescribing practices.

Beyond safeguarding patient safety, incorporating these features into EHR systems equips providers with the tools needed to advance public health initiatives aimed at preventing substance abuse and overdose-related fatalities.


EHRs and EMRs play a crucial role in monitoring patients on fentanyl. These software technologies allow clinicians to track medication history, manage dosages, and identify potential drug interactions. Through features like PDMP integration and alerts for contraindications, EHRs enhance patient safety by preventing adverse drug events and promoting informed prescribing practices.

Providing You with the Best

At 1st Providers Choice, we understand the critical role of electronic prescribing and prescription monitoring in ensuring patient safety, particularly in managing opioids like fentanyl. Our EMR and e-prescribing software is tailored to meet federal requirements for electronically prescribing controlled substances, contributing to better health outcomes for your patients.

With our advanced PDMP seamlessly integrated into your EHR, we streamline the process of checking patients’ prescription records before prescribing controlled substances. By reducing cognitive workload and ensuring compliance, our PDMP empowers you to focus on delivering exceptional patient care without administrative burdens.

Take the next step towards optimizing your prescribing processes and enhancing patient care. Call us today at 480-782-1116 or fill out the form for more information.