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New System Promises Access to Prescription Information in a Disaster

By Eric Toner, M.D., April 26, 2007

In a press release dated April 24, 2007, SureSripts®, announced the creation of Emergency RxHistory, a new service that will provide clinicians and pharmacists across the country with ready access to medication histories of patients who are displaced in a disaster. This new internet-based service will allow licensed prescribers and pharmacists to obtain details of a disaster victim’s previous drug regimen, including dosage and physician instructions, from any location with internet access.

SureSripts ®, an organization founded in 2001 by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association, operates the Pharmacy Health Information Exchange™ (PHIE). The PHIE facilitates day-to-day electronic transmission of routine prescription information between pharmacists and physicians utilizing certified electronic prescribing or electronic medical record software. According to the press release, more than 95 percent of all pharmacies and all major physician technology vendors in the United States are certified on the PHIE.

RxHistory, which is one of several services provided by SureSripts ®, allows a “single view of a patient's medication history by… aggregate[ing] a patient's medication history stored in the databases of community pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers.”  

During a disaster, participating pharmacy chains, which include Brooks Eckerd, CVS/pharmacy, Giant Food Pharmacy, Kerr Drug, Longs Drugs, Rite Aid, Stop & Shop, Walgreens and Wal-Mart, have agreed to provide access to RxHistory through the PHIE. Additional pharmacies will be added in the near future and as needed depending on the geographical area affected by the disaster.

Pharmacists and clinicians who already use RxHistory will have access to Emergency RxHistory through their normal software. For prescribers who do not have access to certified software, a secure internet portal has been created by Informed Decisions, LLC and the American Medical Association to allow access to Emergency RxHistory from any computer. During periods of emergency, licensed healthcare professionals who have been properly identified and authenticated and who have registered on (In Case of Emergency Rx) can access prescription histories of disaster victims.

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina clearly demonstrated the need for portable medical information in a disaster. The care of thousands of injured and evacuated patients was hampered by a lack of medical history and particularly by a lack of medication records. Many of those who were treated in emergency facilities and housed in emergency shelters had chronic medical conditions, but did not know the names of the medications they were taking for those conditions. RxHistory was first tested by pharmacies to help Hurricane Katrina victims who needed medications but who had no prescription information. In these situations, clinicians were able to access medication histories from community pharmacies via

This initiative by the pharmacy industry is a significant step in collaborative community-based disaster preparedness and should be applauded. Hopefully other pharmacies will join this effort and professional societies will promote its use to clinicians.


Press Release. Community Pharmacies Help Prepare Nation for Next Emergency. SureSripts® web site.!content/community-pharmacies-help-prepare-nation-for-next-emergency. Accessed April 25, 2007.