A doctor's DEA number is assigned by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and allows the doctor to prescribe controlled substances, explains the agency. A prescription for controlled substances can only be issued by an authorized medical practitioner who is registered with the DEA. Doctors who work at the Public Health Service, the Federal Bureau of Prisons or the military are exempt from DEA registration.
From October 1, 1985 onwards, registered health care practitioners have their DEA numbers starting with the letter B or F, notes the agency. The DEA numbers of mid-level practitioners begin with the letter M. The first letter of a DEA number is generally followed by the first letter of the registrant’s last name. Following the second letter is a computer-generated sequence of seven numbers. Mid-level practitioners, such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, optometrists and euthanasia technicians, can prescribe controlled substances, subject to state parameters and a pharmacist's verification.
A practitioner who is employed with a hospital or another healthcare institution can use the hospital’s registration number to prescribe controlled substances, as the DEA explains. This hospital needs to verify the acting practitioner to ensure that he is eligible to administer controlled substances in compliance with the local jurisdiction.