The problem of orthopedic surgeons prescribing opioids
According to a new report published in The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, orthopedic surgeons have been prescribing opioids at a high rate. The study revealed that orthopedic surgeons are the third highest prescribers of painkillers among physicians in the U.S. They fall just behind behind internists and primary care doctors.
Dr. Brent J. Morris, the study’s co-author and a shoulder and elbow surgeon at the Lexington Clinic Orthopedics, stated, “Orthopedic injuries including broken bones can be very painful and may require casting or surgery to treat and these are often treated with an opioid pain medication during the initial recovery period.” Morris also discussed how “it is very reasonable to use a short course of opioid pain medications to help with recovery following surgery.”
Despite their warranted use, Morris added that it’s very important that a physician’s responsibility “involves minimizing the use of opioids whenever possible.” He emphasizes that good communication between physicians and patients is “the key in settling expectations regarding pain control.” Deciding on whether or not prescription opioids are an appropriate option for some patients is not an easy decision to make for doctors. There are other non-opioid options doctors can prescribe such as over the counter medications or nerve blockers, which are often used post surgery to lower any severe pain one could experience following surgery.
Dr. Hassen R. Mir, Associate Professor of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at the Vanderbilt Orthopedic Institute and the study’s author, has said that pain management is an “important part of patient care,” but that prescribers should “aim to control pain and improve patient satisfaction while avoiding overprescribing opioids.” He also added that most patients are honest in discussing their perceived level of pain, however, the prevalence of patients who “doctor shop” makes this delicate matter for orthopedic surgeons to handle.
Forty-nine of 50 states have established a prescription drug monitoring program to help physicians track patients’ controlled medication prescriptions and prevent doctor shopping. The program provides a central database for doctors to reference to help decrease prescription painkiller abuse and the suspicious prescribing behaviors of corrupt physicians who over-prescribe these medications. Currently, the United States consumes 80 percent of the world’s pain medications and the prescription opioid epidemic continues to rattle the country’s health.
Opioid addiction has been on the rise for years and has caused an increased need for addiction treatment services. Sovereign Health Group is among the leading addiction treatment providers in the country. We offer a variety of inpatient and outpatient treatment options for patients who struggle with drug or alcohol addiction, mental health disorders and dual diagnosis. If you know someone who struggling with addiction and is in need of treatment, please do not hesitate to call. Our admissions helpline is open 24/7 and one of our treatment specialists will assist you in finding the right treatment option for you.
Written by Benjamin Creekmore, Sovereign Health Group writer