Everyday hundreds of thousands of prescriptions are written by doctors for a number of different health problems. One of the most common reasons doctors prescribe medications is for pain management, typically prescribing prescription opioids to help patients cope with their pain. Prescription opioids, like oxycodone and hydrocodone, are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs and they are highly addictive. Most doctors have little or no training in pain management, let alone addiction, which has helped fuel the prescription drug epidemic raging in America. The American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP) is pushing for legislation that, if passed, requires health care professionals who prescribe drugs to receive specialized training.
Doctors need to be properly trained to identify whether or not prescribing an opioid will interact adversely with another drug a patient is currently taking. It is crucial that doctors are able to spot signs of addiction or habitual behavior with their patients; prescribing opioids to addicts needs to be closely monitored in order to prevent overdoses and fatalities. David Kloth, MD, a Connecticut-based pain management specialist and spokesperson and former president of ASIPP points out that 80 to 90 percent of doctors in the United States have no formal training in prescribing opioid medications. “I would never prescribe chemotherapy or heart medication to a patient, because I have no formal training in how to do so. But many doctors who haven’t been properly trained are prescribing opioids.”
The role doctors need to play is different today, there are more medications now than ever, and understanding the complexities that exist between different medications as well as different patients is of the upmost importance. “When you prescribe opioids, you need to be a doctor, detective, parent and policeman all in one”, says Kloth.