To: Massachusetts Nursing and Professional Healthcare Organizations

From: Laurie Talarico, MS, RN, NP, Nursing Practice Coordinator

Re: Prescription Monitoring Program AND Advanced Practice Nurses Who Prescribe Controlled Substances Mandatory Education Requirement

Date: March 30, 2011 (updated 7-27-16)

The Board of Registration in Nursing (Board) would like to convey the following:

Prescription Monitoring Program

The Department of Public Health established the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) in 1992 pursuant to joint regulations of the Drug Control Program (see 105 CMR 700.006(J)) and the Board of Registration in Pharmacy (247 CMR 5.04). The PMP collects prescribing and dispensing information on Massachusetts Schedule II - VI controlled substances dispensed pursuant to a prescription. The PMP utilizes the data collected to determine prescribing and dispensing trends; provide educational information to health care providers and the public; and provide case information to regulatory and law enforcement agencies concerning drug distribution and diversion.

The Massachusetts Prescription Awareness Tool (MassPAT) will go live August 22, 2016.  Online registration for MassPAT is now open.  Users will not be able to conduct patient searches in MassPAT until August 22, 2016.  For more information, including accessing MassPAT, please follow this link to the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) website:

Mandatory Education Requirement for All Prescribers

As of January 1, 2011, with subsequent amendments from chapter 52 of the Acts of 2016, pursuant to MGL 94C, Section 18(e), all prescribers, upon initial application for MA Controlled Substance Registration (MCSR) and subsequently during each APRN license renewal period, must complete education relative to:

  1. effective pain management;
  2. the risks of abuse and addiction associated with opioid medication;
  3. identification of patients at risk for substance use disorders;
  4. counseling patients about the side effects, addictive nature and proper storage and disposal of prescription medications;
  5. appropriate prescription quantities for prescription medications that have an increased risk of abuse; and
  6. opioid antagonists, overdose prevention treatments and instances in which a patient may be advised on both the use of and ways to access opioid antagonists and overdose prevention treatments.

Boston University (BU) School of Medicine, with the cooperation with the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the New England Division of the US Drug Enforcement Agency, the Massachusetts Medical Society, and the Massachusetts Hospital Association, developed presentations entitled Safe and Effective Opioid Prescribing for Chronic Pain that meet the educational objectives of the statute.

The educational program is a web-based activity supported by funding from the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine, and by an unrestricted educational grant from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and is offered at no charge to prescribers. At the completion of the program, a certificate for 3 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™ can be downloaded and printed. This continuing education offering is consistent with the Board of Registration in Nursing (Board) requirements at 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education pdf format of 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education
for the equivalent of 3.6 Contact Hours.

The BU educational program is one of many available that will satisfy the requirement.  Prescribers may choose any program that meets the required content and is consistent with 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education.

Please note that MGL 94C, Section 18(e) does not specify a minimum number of contact hours to comply with this education requirement. Also, the Board Advisory Ruling #0901: Management of Pain has undergone revisions to keep pace with amendments.

Through your signature on the Massachusetts Controlled Substance Registration (MCSR) form and on your nursing license renewal form, you attest under penalties of perjury compliance with state tax and child support laws, mandatory reporting laws, and regulations, including continuing education requirements.

This information is provided by the Division of Health Professions Licensure within the Department of Public Health.