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New study finds emergency room doctors are prescribing fewer pain meds

Posted: 4:56 PM, Jan 18, 2018
Updated: 2018-01-18 23:24:34Z

A new study by the Annals of Emergency Medicine analyzed prescription numbers over a 17 year period. The study concluded emergency departments are not a major source of opiate prescriptions.

The study found 66 percent of opiates are prescribed by doctor's offices and dentists.

It also found prescription opiates like Oxycontin and Vicodin originating from emergency departments fell from seven percent to four percent nationally. But there's work to be done.

Doctor Baruch Fertel from the Cleveland Clinic’s opiate task force said more doctors in the emergency room and in doctor’s offices are now looking for other ways to treat pain.

“We need to think about ways to treat pain other than giving people a pill. Be it physical therapy for back pain or considering something like acupuncture or pressure point injections. If it has to be opiates, let’s use it as a short of time as possible,” Fertel said.

The Cleveland Clinic’s emergency room only prescribes pain pills for three days, because studies show even a five-day prescription is more likely to lead to addiction, Fertel said.

Fertel said other studies show more doctors offices are also prescribing fewer opiates to get a grip on the opiate epidemic.

He said emergency rooms are not the place to get long-term pain meds for chronic pain.

Doctor’s must also get more training in how to recognize addicts, as some people who will fake injuries to get pain medication.

“I’ve had patients tell me that they’ve had unnecessary surgeries. It’s truly a disease,” Fertel said.

While nationally, emergency room prescriptions for opiates have dropped 3 percent, the Cleveland Clinic has dropped 15 percent in just the last year.