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Monday, November 14, 2011

Primary Care Physicians Managing Pain

Pain management is an extremely difficult field of medicine. There are few actual pain specialists in America which makes pain management fall in the lap of primary care physicians. Few primary care physicians have been properly educated in how to adequately deal with the ever growing prescription drug epidemic, according to American Medical News. In most cases primary care physicians are a contributing factor in how prescription drug abuse has spun out of control.

“Doctors have caused an epidemic, not out of malicious intent but out of a desire to treat pain compassionately,” Andrew Kolodny, MD, President of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, told the publication. “We over prescribed and created a public health crisis.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the number of Americans who died from overdoses of prescription painkillers more than tripled in the past decade. Now more people die from prescription opioids than from heroin and cocaine combined.

An estimated 14,800 people died in the United States from painkiller overdoses in 2008, a more than threefold jump from the 4,000 deaths recorded in 1999, the CDC said in a new report.

Primary care physicians often develop a strong rapport with their patients often making hard to say no when a patient asks for a particular drug. In many cases doctors are not conducting thorough exams to determine the source of the problem, assuming there is actually a problem. Doctors write prescriptions more than they look for solutions to the problem their patient is suffering from. Prescription opioids should only be prescribed as a last resort.

The more thorough doctors are with their patients can directly influence the number of patients who die from accidental overdoses. Doctors can no longer take their patients word about their ailments, as more and more people lie about their symptoms to acquire their drugs of choice.

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