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My log made me realize that I’ve been quite judicious with the drugs, especially for patients with ongoing, chronic pain. Studies have shown that opioids are not very effective in controlling pain that’s not acute, like persistent low back pain. In fact, they may cause changes in the body that make the discomfort even more pronounced and harder to treat.

It’s too early to know for sure, but I have a hunch that other physicians are changing their prescribing patterns too. When I explain to patients that I’m sending them home without a script for a fistful of oxycodone pills because of statewide initiatives limiting these prescriptions, they seem to understand, which makes me think other doctors are telling them the same. In the past, they would challenge my judgment or accuse me of practicing differently from my colleagues.

The emergency room may be the first — or last — resort for these patients. We’re always open, and people looking for narcotic painkillers know they can come in any time without scheduling an appointment or taking a day off work. Some have exhausted all the usual options, and have been cut off by their doctors who know their behavior well.

… Read More

Image: By Adam from UK – Temazepam 10mg tablets-1, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10764568

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