Prescription fraud refers to obtaining medication illegally via a fraudulent prescription–whether for personal use or with the intention of selling medication for profit. Prescription fraud fuels illegal opportunities for the use of drugs. When a drug is not used for medical purposes, this can lead to the endangerment of users.
If you’re on your way to becoming a pharmacy assistant, it’s important to be able to recognize the signs of prescription fraud in order to act appropriately if it occurs. Here’s what prescription medication fraud can look like, and what to do upon recognizing it.
Why Those with Pharmacy Assistant Training Should Know About Prescription Fraud
While pharmacy assistants operate under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist, they are still responsible for inputting prescription orders received into the system and confirming the accuracy of prescription information with providers, as well as maintaining and handling patient information and details. While pharmacists are trained in the identification of prescription fraud, as a pharmacy assistant your vigilance also matters in the process of detecting a potentially fraudulent prescription. If you have pharmacy assistant training, here’s what you need to know about prescription fraud.
How Pharmacy Professionals Are Important in Counteracting Prescription Fraud
Pharmacies fulfill prescriptions for controlled substances, which are federally regulated under the Controlled Substances Directorate of Health Canada. Controlled substances include substances listed in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act–including controlled drugs, narcotics, benzodiazepines and more. A licensed physician’s prescription is required in order to obtain a controlled substance. Prescription fraud practices are used to illegally obtain controlled substances through a pharmacy. When a pharmacist is unable to detect that a prescription is fraudulent, the offender may continue to repeat the crime at the same location. Thus, it’s important that all professionals in pharmacies have an understanding of some key signs of prescription fraud.
How to Identify and Prevent Prescription Fraud
Prescription fraud can be difficult to catch, especially in the age of computer-generated prescriptions. Prescriptions can only be fulfilled when they have been signed and dated by a registered provider or confirmed via phone (with proper verification measures). However, it’s important to consider many different elements and factors which could be signs of a fraudulent prescription, and pharmacies typically have routine procedures in place to verify the authenticity of the prescriptions they receive. After graduating from pharmacy assistant school, you may be asked to use a checklist similar to the one below to determine, together with a supervisor, whether a prescription could be fraudulent.
- Does the quantity of the medication seem unusual?
- Is the prescription inconsistent with a patient’s information or typical dosage?
- Does the prescription contain spelling or grammatical errors or unfamiliar terminology?
- Is the formatting inconsistent?
- Does it look like a photocopy?
- Does it appear that there have been changes made to the date or quantity specified?
If the answer is ‘yes’ to any of these factors, it’s possible that the prescription is fraudulent. Most pharmacies will have a streamlined screening process for incoming prescriptions, and this can help to identify prescription fraud.
What to Do with a Potential Case of Prescription Fraud
If a prescription is potentially fraudulent, a pharmacy should hold the prescription, or make a copy if possible, and notify the police. For their own safety, pharmacy professionals should not attempt to detain suspects, but should wait for law enforcement officials to handle the situation.
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“You can get a career in less than a year.” – Kendra, Pharmacy Assistant program graduate