4 ways physicians can fight the opioid epidemic

Opioid prescriptions have quadrupled since 1999, while opioid overdose deaths reached 28,000 in 2014, marking a 14 percent increase from a year prior, according to a column in The New York Times.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, issued a letter last week to 2.3 million physicians and healthcare workers across the country calling on them to join a national movement to combat opioid addiction. He also launched a website for his "Turn the Tide" campaign that highlights alternative pain management techniques.

Here are four ways physicians can help limit painkiller abuse, according to the report.

  1. Before prescribing painkillers, physicians should attempt to manage pain through other treatment methods like physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs, acupuncture, exercise, etc., according to the report.

  2. If physicians need to write prescriptions for opioids, they should be for lower doses and shorter time frames.

  3. The report urges physicians to pay attention to state drug monitoring programs to look for signs of prescription drug abuse and ensure patients are not receiving multiple painkiller prescriptions from different physicians.

  4. Physicians should inform patients about treatment options when it is clear they are suffering from addiction.

More articles on integration and physician issues:

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Wayne State University considers noncompete clauses for physician group

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