Doctors Caught Between Patient Pain, Prescriptions

Joe Cantlupe, August 9, 2012

For some physician leaders, pain management may become a significant boon to their business, especially as the U.S. population ages. In a Health Leaders Media Industry survey this year, 37% predicted pain management will grow 1 to 5% over the next five years.

But doctors are on a precipice as they prescribe pain medication, especially long-acting and extended-release opioid analgesics such as oxycodone. Most are aware of the persistent potential for abuse, misuse, or mistaken use of the highly potent prescription drugs among patients. And the stress is mounting – for the docs. 

States are tightening treatment requirements, while the federal government weighs the possibility of mandatory educational plans for doctors in their handling of opioids, putting federal officials at loggerheads with much of the medical establishment.

Some physicians are so upset over what they term the "bureaucratic" infringements, that they are considering no longer seeing patients who seek pain treatment. Instead, they would prefer to refer those patients to colleagues who are willing to prescribe potent analgesics.

Joe Cantlupe Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.Twitter

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