Last year the state of California implemented an online prescription database that records the drug use for patients who receive prescription medications. Doctors and hospitals are now able to access the records online to determine if patients might be prescription drug abusers or sellers.
So far, 40 states have laws on the books that establish the use of these kinds of databases to help doctors, and especially emergency rooms, determine patient medication needs. Of the forty, 34 states have implemented such systems. Given statewide success of the systems many states are now calling for a federal database to help stop abusers from crossing state lines to obtain additional prescriptions for medication.
A 2005 law allocated federal funds to help establish the state systems with the overall goal of implementing a nationwide database in the future. To date though the costs of such a system remain unknown and there has not been any movement towards coordination. Privacy groups continue to voice concerns about how this might impact legal consumers but hospitals and doctors remain adamant that it is a necessary next step to combat prescription drug abuse.