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New York audit finds painkiller prescribing errors are rampant despite new regulations

An audit by New York state health regulators has uncovered more than 325,000 prescribing errors for painkillers and other drugs with the potential for abuse. The audit covered approximately 28.5 million prescriptions that were dispensed in the state of New York over a 15 months period.

According to the audit, the painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as the sleeping pill Ambien, represented more than half of the 565,000 prescription errors recorded by health officials. Although the painkiller prescribing errors represented less than one percent of the prescriptions issued during the 15 month period, state health officials said that they needed to do more to curb the potential for abusing these drugs.

The audit found that the hundreds of thousands of painkiller prescription errors were caused by a number of factors. Some prescribing errors were due to invalid federal identification numbers, prescriptions that were filed at multiple locations or with incorrect information, or prescriptions that were refilled more times than had been authorized by a doctor.

New York recently passed a law that would outlaw paper prescriptions and create a new “real time” database in order to prevent prescription drug abuse. The new law is set to go into effect on December 21, 2014.