Pain management has seen significant advances over the years. Intense pain can affect somebody’s mental state and their body’s ability to heal from an injury or illness. Simply put, controlling pain is often key to successfully treating a medical condition.
Unfortunately, most of the modern drugs available for pain management are dangerous. They carry the risk of addiction, overdose and negative interaction with other substances, such as alcohol. Physicians prescribing opioid pain relief medication have to be very careful with their prescribing practices.
Doctors should never prescribe more than a patient needs
There is a thriving secondary market for the illegal sale and purchase of pain medication. A physician needs to be careful about the number of pills that they prescribe to someone in order to reduce the risk of people seeking prescriptions and reselling unused medication.
Physicians should also be careful to consider how long a patient will truly need narcotic levels of pain relief after treatment. For some people, opioid painkillers may only be necessary for a day or two, after which they may be able to step down to something less addictive. However, the average prescription in 2017, the most recent year with data available, was 17 days. This could be a sign that these dangerous drugs are being overprescribed.
When physicians continue to renew prescriptions for someone who no longer needs pain relief, addiction and overdose could be the consequences. Surviving family members who lose a loved one due to the abuse of legally prescribed medication may be able to hold a physician accountable if they’re prescribing practices don’t comply with best practices for pain management.