OARRS Alerts Prompt Widespread Concern

(October 12, 2016) The Ohio Osteopathic Association (OOA )and other physician associations have expressed concern to the State Medical Board over recent emails that were sent to physicians who “do not appear to be using OARRS properly.” 

Emails were sent to physicians as the Ohio Pharmacy Board released the results of an Ohio Automated Prescription Reporting System (OARRS) audit to the Associated Press, which proclaimed “some 12,000 physicians appear to be violating the policy aimed at stemming the opioid epidemic.” 

The Medical Board responded to OOA by saying “the vast majority of physicians included in the report have non-egregious issues and minimal non-compliance matters that must be addressed. In fact, the median number of non-checks for each prescriber was in the single digits.”

“If you feel your name was included on the OARRS report in error and you had 100% compliance with OARRS mandates, email the Medical Board at OARRSinfo@med.ohio.gov. Include:

  • Your full name, practice/office address
  • State Medical Board of Ohio license number
  • Correct DEA number(s) and
  • A brief explanation or the corrections that need to be made.

The Medical Board will be working with the Board of Pharmacy to help physicians review each prescription to determine why the database may have pulled their name into the report. The Boards say they understand that the vast majority of prescribers who appeared on the list did so due to a limited number of missed checks, by an error at another point in the prescription fulfillment process, or because the prescription fell within the limits of one of the defined regulatory exemptions to OARRS reporting. 

"Our intention is to work with you to eliminate any errors so you do not appear on future reports, " said Tessie Pollock, Medical Board Director of Communications.  "If you ran your OARRS report and can identify the few instances where an OARRS check was not run on a patient, please review your office’s procedures, make any necessary changes in practice, and then no further action is required."

According to Pollock, the Medical Board "does not intend to take action on singular instances of failure to check OARRS. However, it is important that you take this opportunity to confirm that your protocols and procedures are in compliance or to correct any errors in your OARRS account information.”

(UPDATE December 7, 2016) Discussion with the boards has been ongoing since October. Today, the OOA and other prescriber organizations met with staff from the Medical and Pharmacy boards to discuss regulatory activities related to OARRS. The associations expressed concern not only about the wording of communications sent to physicians, but also deficiencies in the OARRS system in identifying “waived exemptions,” and problems associated with physician office workflow, EHRs, and regulatory feedback given to prescribers. The Boards and professions agreed to work together to identify and correct deficiencies and expedite integration of the OARRS systems into electronic health records.