Physicians’ perspectives on prescribing opioid pain medications continue to be wildly contradictory, even in the midst of a national crisis, if the results of a recent Harris Poll commissioned by Quest Diagnostics is any indication. Nearly three quarters (72%) said they trust their patients to take controlled substances as prescribed, even though 51% of test results for patients who had been prescribed an opioid or other controlled medication showed signs of drug misuse—and 24% showed signs of potentially dangerous drug mixing. Another dichotomy: 95% of respondents “feel confident” in their own ability to discuss the risks of prescription drug misuse with their patients, but only 55% say they actually did so with such patients within the last month leading up to the survey. With all the conflicting data, it’s no surprise that most primary care physicians (62%) say they fear that the opioid drug crisis will evolve into a new prescription drug crisis at some point. Urgent care is likely to be deeply involved in how that concern plays out, given that drug-seeking patients may assume it would be easier to get an unwarranted pain medication from a clinician they probably haven’t seen before, and are unlikely to see again. JUCM looked at this very issue in an article called The Potential Role of Urgent Care in Addressing the Opiate Epidemic. It’s available in our archive.
Mixed Emotions: Most Physicians Trust Patients with Opioids, but Fear a New Drug Crisis