Doctors strike balance when treating pain and preventing prescription abuse

Selected articles on trends, challenges and controversies in the changing world of medicine

Posted Nov. 21, 2011

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Selected articles on trends, challenges and controversies in the changing world of medicine.
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During the past decade, overdose deaths from painkillers have more than tripled -- a troubling rise that has put physicians increasingly in a difficult position. They must try to detect when "doctor shoppers" and even established patients seek pain medicine to abuse the drugs. At the same time, doctors are expected to prescribe medications when appropriate for pain relief. Recently, we examined the guidance physicians are getting to treat their patients' pain at a time when opioid abuse is climbing. We looked at how states are hoping to reduce overdose deaths by monitoring and restricting opioid prescriptions. Our coverage also reported on research showing that doctors need to monitor their patients more closely to make sure pain medication is not misused.

Physicians struggle to treat pain amid opioid overdose crisis

More than 14,000 people died in 2008 after overdosing on painkillers, more than triple the amount in 1999. Read more

States try more aggressive Rx opioid controls

Stricter oversight of physicians includes setting dosage limits and requiring CME. Read more

Opioid prescribing requires close patient monitoring

A study finds that primary care doctors avoid urine screening and other methods to prevent abuse of the pain medications even with highest-risk patients. Read more

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