The unmistakeable, tectonic shift in the medical establishment’s thinking about opioid prescribing continues to reverberate across the country. The medical community and law enforcement are starting to be of one mind, with the CDC‘s recent game-changer of a statement that too many doctors prescribe too many opioids to too many patients for too many things. As I have been writing, medical providers and insurance carriers and risk managers and medical malpractice lawyers need to change with the changing science, or get run over by the oncoming train of opioid-prescribing reform. Today’s post is a case in point of who could get pulverized.
NPR has reported that according to recent studies, many primary care doctors prescribe opioids for back pain when the accepted normal beginning course of treatment should be ibuprofen and physical therapy. The studies cite a number of possible reasons for tossing aside other treatments in favor of narcotics: Economics, insurance-reimbursement pressures facing doctors, online ratings by patients and the need to keep patients happy (or face online criticism and fewer referrals), and other factors. The studies note that with 1 in 10 primary care visits scheduled because of patient back pain, that’s a lot of opioids being prescribed when they shouldn’t be.
Medical providers who even a few months ago would have treated with opioids now need to wake up and smell the coffee, Mrs. Bueller. It’s no longer sufficient justification in light of the CDC’s new position on opioid prescription rates. As it is written:
“You want to be able to say, ‘When the science changed, so did I.’”
I wrote that two posts ago; I just wanted you to think I was quoting Scripture. I will continue to urge providers and the professionals who support and defend them to immediately and thoroughly evaluate all aspects of their opioid prescribing, in light of the CDC’s new position – which has since been cited favorably by the AMA. Any professional association, medical society or advocacy group that tells you times haven’t changed is not keeping up with current events, and may as well be directing you to stand on the train track and not move, no matter what. Stay up to speed, seek help in evaluating your practice or the advice you give your insureds or clients, and modify accordingly — today.
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