If you are hiring a physician, pharmacist, dentist, or nurse who will administer and prescribe medications, you will need to conduct a DEA search as part of the hiring process. DEA numbers are unique identifiers, and a practitioner can have more than one DEA number if they are practicing in more than one state.
What is a DEA Number?
A DEA number is the identifier that allows medical professionals to write prescriptions for controlled substances. DEA numbers consist of two letters, six numbers, and one check digit. DEA numbers are smart numbers meaning some of the digits have meaning.
- The first letter indicates the registrant type:
- B for clinics or hospitals
- E for manufacturers
- C for practitioners
- R for narcotic treatment programs
- The second letter is the first letter of the prescriber’s last name; the number 9 is used for prescribers who use a business address instead of their names.
- The remaining characters are numbers.
There is a manual method that you can use to check the validity of a DEA number which is outlined below.
Step Algorithm Example
|Step 1||The first two characters must be uppercase letters||BB1388568|
|Step 2||Sum the first, third, and fifth digits||1 + 8 + 5 = 14|
|Step 3||Sum the second, fourth, and sixth digits.||3 + 8 + 6= 17|
|Step 4||Double the number obtained in step 3.||2 × 17 = 34|
|Step 5||Sum the numbers from steps 2 and 4.||14 + 34 = 48|
|Step 6||If the last digit of the DEA number is the same as the last digit of the number obtained in step 5, the DEA number is considered valid.||The last digit of BB1388568 and 48 is the same, “8”. |
This checksum indicates that the DEA number is valid.
When conducting a DEA search, most pharmacies and health care facilities use software and online tools for verification. If you conduct a search and the result comes back with no match, the first step is to check with the practitioner to ensure there was no typo in the number. If the search still comes back with no match or indicates the DEA number has expired DEA you will have an issue that must be addressed with the practitioner before hiring.
DEA Numbers must be renewed every three years. If you find that a practitioner’s DEA number is not valid, it could be that their DEA number has expired. It takes up to 12 weeks by mail and six weeks online for the DEA renewal process. If your DEA search fails, the first step you may want to take is to ask the practitioner for their license expiration date and if they have recently applied for renewal if it is past the renewal date.
Multiple DEA Numbers
Those medical professionals who practice in more than one state will be required to have a unique DEA number for each location in which they practice. If a practitioner relocates from one state to another, they can transfer their DEA license and do not have to obtain a new one. Once their application is approved, the DEA will issue a new certificate. Those practitioners who only work in a clinic or hospital are allowed to use the facility’s DEA registration if that is the hospital or clinic’s policy.
DEA Number Lookup by NPI?
There are several different ways to verify or look up an applicant’s DEA number. The first step is to ask the practitioner to supply the number; if for some reason, you cannot get it from them or just need to look it up quickly, you can do so through several databases available online such as www.dealookup.com. You can also call the DEA and ask about a specific license if you have the number and just need to verify it.
In addition to searching for a DEA number using the practitioner’s name, you can search using their National Provider Identifier (NPI), a 10-digit number used to identify health care partners, including all payers.
Websites like www.dealookup.com match 95% of all prescriber DEA numbers to their respective NPI numbers. This website, in particular, includes all type 1 prescribers – medical doctors, doctors of osteopathic medicine, naturopaths, chiropractors, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, optometrists, podiatrists, and others authorized to prescribe medication.