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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Doctor Shopping Common Amongst Surgery Patients

Despite the fact that many states around the country have implemented prescription drug monitoring systems, many are still finding ways to get pain medications from multiple doctors - “doctor shopping.” In fact, a new study has found that one-fifth of patients who have surgery for orthopedic trauma, visit multiple doctors for painkiller prescriptions, according to HealthDay.
The medical and pharmacy records of 130 patients treated for orthopedic trauma at Vanderbilt University Medical Center were looked at by researchers.

Going to multiple doctors can be extremely dangerous, often times leading to addiction and, or overdoses. The new research implies that doctors are not sharing information amongst each other regarding the needs of their patients, says lead author Dr. Brent Morris. “There needs to be coordination if additional pain medications are needed,” said Morris. “Patients should not be receiving multiple narcotic pain medication prescriptions from multiple providers without coordinating with their treating surgeon.”

Researchers found that patients with a high school degree or less were 3.2 times more likely to doctor shop, compared to patients with more education. Patients who used prescription opioids in the past were 4.5 times more likely to doctor-shop, the researchers report.

The findings showed that most of the doctor shoppers used narcotic painkillers for about 3.5 months after surgery, obtaining a median of seven narcotics. Those who did not doctor shop typically used painkillers for one month after surgery, using a median of two narcotic painkillers.

“Our study highlights the importance of counseling patients in the postoperative period, and that it is important to work together to establish reasonable expectations for pain control as part of treatment plan discussions and follow-up visits,” Dr. Morris said in a news release.

The findings can be found in the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

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