Nearly 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. This means that about one-third of the United States’ population is experiencing a certain level of discomfort, although in varying degrees. By all indications, this is a worrisome fact.
In light of this statistic, pain management has become a multi-billion dollar business. Among the major players who are taking advantage of this market’s massive potential is the drug manufacturing industry. As more drugs flood the market, the possibility of doctors to over-prescribe pain medication has likewise increased.
According to a study by the National Safety Council (NSC), even doctors who have the noblest of intentions are issuing prescriptions beyond what is needed by patients. The study revealed that 99 percent of over-prescribing doctors were issuing opioid prescriptions over and above the three-day period required by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
So, the question is, how will you know if a doctor is over-prescribing? Here are some signs that will help you determine if a physician may be giving you medication that is more than what you actually need:
When you don’t know exactly what the drug is for.
It is the responsibility of your doctor to explain why you need to take a certain type of opioid for medication. He or she should also make you understand how the drug will affect your body and its possible side effects. You should not leave the clinic carrying prescriptions for an illness you are not aware of.
When the doctor acts as a sales agent.
First and foremost, your doctor is responsible for addressing your medical condition. This means that the medication he or she is prescribing should be appropriate for your illness. Over-prescribing doctors have a tendency to recommend drugs which they are sponsored to promote by pharmaceutical companies.
When the doctor refuses to respond to questions.
As a patient, you should not be afraid to ask your doctor questions. In turn, he or she needs to respond to your queries, especially if they pertain to opioids you need to take. It is not a good sign if your doctor ignores your questions and proceeds to give you a lecture.
When the doctor lacks the necessary training in pain management.
Patients rely on their doctors to prescribe the most appropriate medicine for the pain they are experiencing. Not all doctors, however, have received sufficient training in pain management. When this happens, there is a huge possibility that he would be over-prescribing medication.
When the doctor feels he or she has no constraints.
There are doctors who are cautious in issuing opioid prescriptions, while they have counterparts who prescribe with abandon. Herein lies the danger, especially for patients who are highly susceptible to a drug overdose.
Antibiotics for common colds?
Antibiotics are prescribed when there is an infection or the patient has a disease caused by bacteria. However, if you only have common colds yet your doctor prescribed you antibiotics, you must be alarmed. Always remember that antibiotics do not treat diseases caused by viruses. These could be common colds, cough or flu.
Over-prescribing doctors tend to give powerful medication to treat sicknesses that are not severe. The use of antibiotics must be done with extra care. A study cites three major side effects of antibiotics, especially when not used properly. The drug may cause toxicological risks and the development of hypersensitivity and resistance to it.
Logos of pharmaceutical companies are all over the clinic.
Is your doctor’s clinic full of different pharmaceutical companies’ logos? That could be a warning sign that he or she may over-prescribe medicines from these drug manufacturers.
In an article, Forbes magazine reported that patients are curious about the relationship of their physicians with pharma companies. They reportedly want to find out if there are financial ties among them. The reason for their curiosity, nevertheless, may vary.
When there is really a financial relationship, this may influence the doctor’s judgment. He or she may recommend a drug exclusively from the companies he or she is dealing with.
More symptoms, more medicines.
Does your doctor write a medicine for each symptom you tell him or her about? This can be a way of spotting over-prescribing doctors.
It is but normal for medical practitioners to ask a number of questions when you pay a visit. This is how they determine their course of action to address your condition. However, it may already become inappropriate if there is a different prescribed drug for every symptom.
A good doctor, who does not tend to over-prescribe, examines you thoroughly first before prescribing any medication.
Prescribing opioid for mild pain?
Over-prescribing doctors have a tendency to prescribe opioids for a mild amount of pain. Opioids should only ever be prescribed for severe or acute pain.
According to a study, the morbidity and mortality rates due to an opioid overdose and misuse have been increasing. That is the reason why dispensing of such is widely regulated.
Based on available data, there were 42,249 Americans who died of an opioid overdose in 2016. In a period of 16 years, 2002-2017, an increase of over 400 percent in opioid-related deaths was observed.
These are just some of the many possible ways to spot if a doctor is over-prescribing. There could be other things to check. What is important, though, is you are critical with every prescription you receive. This means that you do not just accept what you are told to take.
There could be many over-prescribing doctors out there. Thus, you must not allow yourself to fall victim. If you do however, always know that there are many inpatient rehab centers that you can turn to for help.