Special Report: Physician tackles prescription drug abuse

Doctor Ric Montiel
Doctor Ric Montiel

Posted by: Melissa McKinney - bio | email

PRATTVILLE, AL (WSFA) - Doctor Ric Montiel is a pain management physician in Prattville.

He sees nearly 30 patients a day and prescribes controlled substances like Lortab, and Oxycontin.

"We're not handing french fries and a toy through the drive-thru here. We're handing out schedule-2 narcotics," says Montiel.

That's why he makes sure he knows his patients' history.

Part of that involves using the state's electronic prescription drug monitoring program.

"I use it about once every two to three months."

It's a database that logs any controlled substance prescription filled, and a way for doctors to see if patients are doctor shopping for a high.

"There's no way a doctor can know everything about a patient when they walk through the door."

But Montiel says the program only scratches the surface since it doesn't tell him if someone is actually using the drug or selling it.

He says urine evaluations do.

"We'll stay behind it usually through the first couple of doses just to make sure they're taking the medicine," says Montiel.

He combines that with required patient pill counts.

"Make sure they're taking them as prescribed and not more frequently."

Montiel says the database is another tool to fight abuse, but shouldn't be the only thing doctors use.

Still he wishes more did.

"I would love to see more physicians utilizing it before they start handing pain medicines out."

Some physicians have written letters to Governor Riley asking for tougher standards for writing controlled substance prescriptions--standards that would be the same statewide.

Some of those include mandating them to use the monitoring program, and do urine and blood tests.

Right now Louisiana is the only state requiring doctors to test patients who take controlled substances.

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