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A prescription for problems

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFNS) -- Making sure their medical records are up to date and accurate could save Airmen selected for a random drug test a lot of trouble.

In addition to testing for illegal substances, random drug tests also screen for a number of prescription medications, including amphetamines and opiates, like morphine or oxycodone, among others.

“If (an Airman) pops positive for one of these prescription medications during drug testing, he or she needs to have a valid prescription for it in his or her medical records,” said Dr. Don Jenrette, the Air Force Reserve Command’s Drug Demand Reduction Program manager. “If not, a determination has to be made if the member is taking the drug illegally or if he or she simply does not have the proper documentation in his or her medical records.”

Taking the drug illegally can lead to legal action or even discharge from the Air Force. Having to prove that they have a valid prescription can lead to a lot of headaches for Airmen, including possible disciplinary action for not ensuring their medical records are correct, and unnecessary work for the medical squadron.

“According to (Air Force Instruction) 48-123, (“Medical Examinations and Standards”) it’s the members’ responsibility to ensure their medical records are up to date and correct,” said Col. June Cook, the chief of professional services within the command’s Medical Services Directorate.

“Primarily, making sure your medical records are up to date and correct is a readiness issue,” Cook continued. “Having an accurate picture of a member’s health status enables the medics to give an accurate assessment to the commander of the person’s mission capability. Secondarily, accurate records eliminate a lot of unnecessary work for our people and the member.”

It’s a waste of time when medical personnel have to jump through hoops to find out that an Airman had the prescription to begin with, said Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Kupcho, the manager of the command’s Aerospace Medicine Division.

“Taking a few minutes to make sure your new prescription gets reported to your medical unit could save you a lot of time and frustration in the future,” he said.

The chief said the Air Force has entered into data exchange agreements that allow for some medical information to flow automatically from a civilian health care provider to a military member’s medical unit; but Airmen should always check to make sure the correct information makes its way into their records.

For more information, contact a local medical squadron or drug demand reduction office.