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Docs Feel Pressure to Give Addicts Opioids

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By Kristina Fiore, Staff Writer, MedPage Today,Published: October 24, 2012

A push to treat chronic pain and financial disincentives for treating addiction may pressure clinicians into prescribing opioids for patients who are already addicted, a researcher suggested.

Over the past decade, there’s been a perfect storm of changing clinician attitudes toward pain treatment and patient attitudes towards suffering, combined with a lack of compensation for time-consuming clinic visits such as addiction counseling, Anna Lembke, MD, of Stanford University, wrote in a perspective in the New England Journal of Medicine.

That may be leading doctors to write scripts for pain pills even if they know those patients are abusing their medications, Lembke wrote.

“Treatment of pain is held up as the holy grail of compassionate medical care,” she wrote, and clinicians have, over the last decade, felt more compelled to deliver treatment.

They also have the additional pressure of consumer ratings sites, because patients who are dissatisfied may turn around and leave a less-than-favorable review online. Lembke cites the example of one colleague who will occasionally bite the bullet: “Sometimes I just have to do the right thing and refuse to prescribe them, even if I know they’re going to go on Yelp and give me a bad rating,” the colleague told her…

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