When we are in severe pain, relief is at the forefront of our minds. In order to alleviate serious pain, a physician may prescribe painkillers. Currently, painkillers in the form of opioids are being prescribed for such ailments as headaches, abdominal pain and back pain. In the past 20 years, the U.S. has seen a 400 percent increase in the number of opioid prescriptions handed out to patients.
And while this uptick has likely provided much needed relief to many people, there has also been an increase in serious medical events attributed to use of these drugs. These events include drug poisoning and even death. In order to better insure patient safety, doctors should answer the following questions prior to issuing an opioid prescription:
- Has treatment without opioids been unsuccessful?
- Is there a history of the patient having addiction issues regarding the use of alcohol or illicit drugs?
- Does the patient suffer from organ impairment issues such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease?
- Is there a history of drug or alcohol addiction in the patient’s family background?
- Has the patient ever suffered from extreme anxiety or depression?
- Is the patient on medications or are they using alcohol in a way that could cause them to suffer from negative side effects?
Additionally, doctors should have patients sign written agreements stating that they will, among other things, only take the medication as specifically prescribed. They should agree to only receive prescriptions from one doctor and only use one pharmacy to have the prescriptions filled. The patient should also agree to submit to urine drug screenings.
Opioids are powerful and if not properly prescribed can induce serious or even fatal injuries. Doctors must be positive that a patient is physically and emotionally capable of handling these drugs and that the recommended dosage is safe.
If, in seeking relief for pain, you or a member of your family suffers medication injuries from an erroneously prescribed opioid treatment, you may wish to seek the counsel and aid of an Arizona medication injury attorney.