Opiate abuse is taking lives every day all around the country. A major part of the problem is when opiates obtained are from medical professionals who are either duped into giving legitimate prescriptions to those who do not need them, or crooked doctors who are over-prescribing to make money. The Vermont Medical Practice Board has issued a 21 page document that is said to be a guideline for physicians to follow before prescribing opioid based medications.
"We hope and intend this to be a best practices guideline that reflects a balance between the need to treat chronic pain and recognizing the risks and problems we have to be aware of," said Patricia King, an Essex physician and chairwoman of the state medical board.
Providing a guideline that every prescribing physician must follow will set new standards to get medical professionals on the same page. If doctors are doing an assessment of a patient's mental health and substance abuse back round, they may be able to defer false prescriptions from being filled by patients who are over exaggerating their pain or outright fraudulently trying to obtain the pills for recreational purposes.
One of the hardest parts for many prescribing physicians is keeping their patients happy while also giving the best medical care they can. If a doctor is not prescribing what the patient wants, they may lose patients. When they lose patients, their practice suffers. The problem with pain is that it's not something that is easy to measure. People have different pain thresholds. What would hurt one person and cause them excruciating pain will not bother another. A lot of the judgment done by doctors on their patients pain is based off of the honor system. If a patient says they are feeling extreme pain, it is hard for a doctor to tell if they are lying or not. The majority of doctors will not prescribe opiates for an injury they do not believe needs them, which leads to a catch 22. How do doctors know patients are lying to get a prescription to abuse or to sell?
Police and prosecutors all over the country have made the opiate epidemic a main priority. A lot of professionals feel as though too many doctors are prescribing opiates in a liberal way and far too many people are getting their hands on them. The new 21 page document will allow doctors to all be on the same page and to work together in deciding what patients need to help curb abuse.
The policy advises physicians to consult with the Vermont Prescription Monitoring System (VPMS), a statewide database tracking all prescriptions of controlled substances. The Prescription Monitoring System was setup to make sure patients aren't seeking opiate medications from multiple sources also known as “doctor shopping.” The policy also urges doctors to employ pill counts, urine tests and other procedures to assure the drugs being prescribed are being used properly and not abused. Having all of these new tools implemented on a statewide basis should dramatically improve the fight against abuse. Vermont has been on the forefront of curbing the opiate epidemic and they continue to show news ways and set new standards for the rest of the country to follow.