Physicians cite themselves as top factor in prescription opioid abuse

Surveyed pain management specialists, primary care physicians and emergency room physicians cited physicians overprescribing for pain management as the single biggest contributing factor in the misuse of prescription opioids in the last five years.

The microsurvey, conducted by healthcare market research firm InCrowd, assessed physicians' opinions on the opioid epidemic and the state of pain treatment in America. Regarding the reason for the increased rates of abuse, 18 percent cited the accessibility to non-prescribed pain medication as the top factor in opioid abuse rates, 24 percent cited patient drug-seeking behavior as the top cause and 30 percent cited physician overprescribing as the primary factor.

"We were told for years that [opioids] wouldn't be addictive in the great majority of patients. This was obviously wrong," said one ER physician when responding to the survey.

Other respondents expressed concerns over patients rating physicians with satisfaction scores after they've been denied narcotics. Additionally,73 percent of physicians wanted alternative pain therapies to be integrated into treatment plans to mitigate medication use.

Further findings revealed the majority of participants wanted additional limitations on opioid pain prescribing, with 60 percent of respondents wanting more frequent evaluations of patients taking a prescribed opioid and 59 percent wanting reduced quantities of pain medications for each prescription refill.

"Physicians show extreme frustration with the entire healthcare system when it comes to the opioid crisis," said Diane Hayes, president and cofounder of InCrowd. "Their vote for sweeping healthcare change as reflected by the data should be a rallying cry to make this a top national priority in 2017."

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