Practice Areas

The PDMP — Colorado’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program PDMP – What you should know

As most doc­tors are aware, the Col­orado Board of Phar­macy main­tains the Pre­scrip­tion Drug Mon­i­tor­ing Pro­gram (PDMP), which pro­vides a data­base of con­trolled sub­stance pre­scrip­tions dis­pensed by Col­orado pharmacies.  Access to the PDMP is lim­ited to a defined set of cir­cum­stances.  This is impor­tant because a provider who improp­erly accesses the data­base is sub­ject to sig­nif­i­cant penal­ties, includ­ing fines and crim­i­nal charges.  Specif­i­cally, a per­son who improp­erly obtains infor­ma­tion is sub­ject to a civil fine of up to $10,000 each.  Vio­la­tors may also unknow­ingly com­mit a class 6 felony under Colorado’s theft of med­ical record statute.  Finally, providers may be sub­ject to dis­ci­pline by their respec­tive licens­ing boards for unpro­fes­sional conduct.
The PDMP is an on-line data­base that is avail­able to phar­ma­cists, and to licensed Col­orado health care providers with pre­scrip­tive author­ity, such as physi­cians, den­tists, physi­cian assis­tants, podi­a­trists, vet­eri­nar­i­ans, nurses with pre­scrip­tive author­ity, and optometrists.  The PDMP is intended to be a “mech­a­nism whereby prac­ti­tion­ers can dis­cover the extent of each patient’s requests for drugs and whether other providers have pre­scribed sim­i­lar sub­stances…”   § 12–42.5–401.  A PDMP report shows the date pre­scrip­tions are writ­ten, the date filled, the con­trolled sub­stance, the pre­scrib­ing provider, the amount, refills and phar­macy used.
Because of the poten­tial penal­ties involved, it is impor­tant for doc­tors, nurses, den­tists, and oth­ers to under­stand the cir­cum­stances under which they can prop­erly access PDMP data.  As it relates to pre­scrib­ing doc­tors, PAs, nurses, den­tists and other providers, access to the PDMP is lim­ited to inquiries related “to a cur­rent patient of the prac­ti­tioner to whom the prac­ti­tioner is pre­scrib­ing or con­sid­er­ing pre­scrib­ing any con­trolled sub­stance.”  § 12–42.5–404(3)(a).   Pre­scrib­ing providers should under­stand the following:

  1. PDMP queries are lim­ited to cur­rent patients.  In some cir­cum­stances, doc­tors or oth­ers who are respond­ing to either mal­prac­tice or Board com­plaints are tempted to look up for­mer patients.   If no cur­rent practitioner-patient rela­tion­ship exists, PDMP queries are not permitted.
  2. PDMP access is lim­ited to patients.  Physi­cians, nurses and oth­ers are not per­mit­ted to look up them­selves, their staff, or their fam­i­lies on the PDMP.
  3. PDMP is lim­ited to providers who are pre­scrib­ing or are con­sid­er­ing pre­scrib­ing con­trolled sub­stances.   Thus, for exam­ple, an aller­gist should not look up patients for whom he or she would not be pre­scrib­ing a con­trolled substance.

Any provider who deems it nec­es­sary to obtain his or her own PDMP his­tory may do so, but should make direct request through the Board of Phar­macy rather than through a direct PDMP search.   Other providers, such as phar­ma­cists and addic­tion spe­cial­ists, engaged in a legit­i­mate pro­gram to mon­i­tor a patient’s drug use are also per­mit­ted to access the PDMP.   Addi­tion­ally, law enforce­ment agen­cies may obtain reports related to spe­cific patients or prac­ti­tioner, and reg­u­la­tory boards, such as the Board of Med­i­cine, Board of Nurs­ing or Den­tal Board may also access infor­ma­tion related to a spe­cific indi­vid­ual prac­ti­tioner, where the request is part of a bona fide inves­ti­ga­tion and accom­pa­nied by a court order or subpoena.
For more infor­ma­tion, please con­tact Steve Kabler at or visit my other site at