Recently, the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure was criticized for not meeting expectations in addressing prescription drug abuse. Perhaps the critics are right in that the board may not have sufficient resources to accomplish this task. However, the board has been unjustly criticized for its efforts.
The board has long been recognized nationally as one of the earliest and most active in disciplining its licensees. In fact, the Federation of State Medical Boards adopted Kentucky's prescribing guidelines almost verbatim when it published its own guidelines for prescribing controlled substances.
Obviously, the board's budget doesn't allow a spin doctor on its staff, since its response didn't fully explain that circumstance.
Although the board may use KASPER to observe a given physician's prescribing history for a period of time, it may do that only if provided a name. By law, the board may not identify a physician by any means, including KASPER, unless receiving a grievance.
Consequently, if the board lacks that capacity, the agency administering KASPER or the legislature should receive the criticism, not the medical board.
I have no connection with the board other than having been a consultant reviewing grievances for about 10 years following my retirement. That role did provide the opportunity to observe the board's efforts in monitoring physicians in their quality of care, including prescribing habits, moral behavior and ethics.
My experience in prescription drug abuse gives me a better-than-average insight into the problem.
The Kentucky Medical Association appointed me chairman of an ad-hoc committee to promulgate guidelines for the prescribing of controlled substances, which resulted in a report that contained most of the current guidelines adopted by the licensure board. Those guidelines are published and provided to physicians newly licensed in the state.
I also sat on the state attorney general's task force on prescription drug abuse convened by then-Attorney General Ben Chandler. Part of the product of that body included the outline for the current KASPER program. KASPER was not put fully into effect in its present form until some years, allegedly due to lack of funding.
Another task force, in which I also participated, was formed by the governor a few years later to explore the same problems.