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A national panel of health experts recommended on Tuesday that doctors screen all adult patients for illicit drug use, including improper use of prescription medications. But the group, the United States Preventive Services Task Force, stopped short of endorsing such screening for teenagers, a position that puts them at odds with major adolescent health groups.

The panel, which is appointed by the federal Department of Health and Human Services but operates independently, said that its proposed guidelines are intended to combat alarmingly high rates of substance abuse in the United States. It cited a 2017 federal survey that found 1 in 10 Americans ages 18 and older said they were using illicit drugs or not using medications in ways that doctors intended.

The panel’s call for increased scrutiny by primary care doctors is an effort to slow the deadly use of opioids, including street fentanyl and heroin as well as prescription painkillers, perhaps the worst public health crisis in a generation. The experts hope that if front-line health professionals can detect patients’ burgeoning abuse of drugs early, they can help contain or reverse the problems.

…continue reading ‘Screen All Adult Patients for Drug Abuse, National Panel Urges’

Thumb image via article – Credit Kathryn Gamble for The New York Times

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New York Times

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