Study Finds Doctors Had No Reason For Prescribing One-Third Of Opioid Prescription

-by Alanna Ketler

The opioid crisis is at an all-time high in the United States. New research shows that some doctors are part of the problem as they are prescribing opioids for no reason.

Should we be investing more research into non-addictive methods of pain control? Should there be a background check before opioid painkillers are prescribed? Is our health care system actually promoting good health? Why are these drugs legal?

The misuse and addiction to opiates has become an epidemic in the United States. In fact, every single day over 115 people die from overdosing on opioids. Addiction to opioids, which includes heroin, prescription pain medication and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, is an extremely serious national crisis that affects public health and social and economic welfare.

Unfortunately, the majority of these addictions are due in large part to the prescription of opioid pain relievers whether the patient actually needed them or not and with no background check of any kind to make sure the patient didn’t have a history of drug abuse or addictive personality.

Recently, the team at Harvard Medical School and the Rand Corp, released some shocking information after checking medical records from 2006 to 2015. The records showed that a physician gave no explanation at all for writing an opioid prescription in 29 percent of the cases.

These findings help support the major criticism from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, claiming that inappropriate prescribing practices have been in large part to blame for the opioid crises. In 2016 alone, 42,000 people in the United States have died from the use of opioids.

The CDC has been pushing to have doctors prescribe opioids only when absolutely necessary, prescribing the lowest dose they can and ending the prescription as soon as possible.

What Did The Research Discover?

Professor of healthcare policy at Harvard, Nicole Maestas, and her colleagues went through tens of thousands of medical records looking at over 31,000 physician surveys that included prescriptions for opioids. What they found was truly alarming. Two-thirds of the records included a pain diagnosis, back pain, arthritis, diabetes and other chronic conditions, five percent were given for pain related to cancer.

“No pain diagnoses was recorded at the remaining 28.5 percent,” the team wrote in their report, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“At visits with no pain diagnoses recorded, the most common diagnoses were hypertension, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), opioid dependence and ‘other follow-up examination,” they wrote.

Over the past 20 years the number of opioid prescriptions has risen drastically, the CDC feels that people would do better with other painkillers, and sometimes even just ice.

The researchers feel that at the very least doctors should have to write down a reason for prescribing someone an opioid

“Whatever the reasons, lack of robust documentation undermines our efforts to understand physician prescribing patterns and curtails our ability to stem overprescribing,” Dr. Tisamarie Sherry, a researcher from the study said in a statement.

Profit Before People?

This study truly goes to show that often, the ones who are prescribing our ‘medicine’ are thinking more about potential profit than the health and well-being of their patients. This is in no way trying to throw all doctors under the bus, but this does bring a very important issue to the surface in order to be addressed.

Clearly, there needs to be way more regulations as to who is being prescribed opioids and who isn’t. Many of those who are currently struggling with a heroin addiction in the United States have gotten that far from what started with an accident, or some kind of pain that led their doctors to prescribing them opioids in the first place. These drugs are powerfully addictive and are directly to blame for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are currently addicted to this substance.

What makes heroin illegal and opioids legal in the eyes of the law? Is it because one is able to turn a profit for the establishment and one is not?

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.