AMA: What physicians are doing during the prescription epidemic

Accreditation Insider, February 23, 2016

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When should you give a prescription to a patient?
Prescription drug abuse has been on the rise in recent years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report showing that anti-anxiety drugs such as Xanax and Valium were involved in 31% of overdose deaths in 2013. Prescription opioid overdoses kill 44 people per day and have made national headlines.

To find out what physicians think of the prescription problem and how to fix it, the American Medical Association (AMA) conducted a national survey on the issue. Researchers found that physicians have been taking steps toward safer prescribing, with 68% taking continuing medical education (CME) on safe opioid prescribing and 55% taking CMEs on opioid alternatives. However, one in four physicians said that CMEs on these issues aren’t readily available for their specialty or don’t directly address their practice needs.

 An overwhelming majority (87%) of physicians encouraged the use of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP), saying that they help them be more informed about a patient’s prescription history. Still, many also said that state-run PDMPs needed better integration with electronic health records and access to real-time data to improve their usefulness. 

“This survey provides an important window into physicians’ perceptions about caring for patients with pain and those with substance use disorders,” AMA President Steven Stack said in a press release. “This survey confirms that physicians support many of the key policies being considered to end this crisis. The AMA and the nation’s physicians are committed to partnering with others to implement proven solutions.”

After examining the survey results the AMA issued a “call to action” encouraging physicians to:
1.    Register and use their state’s PDMP
2.    Seek further education on safe prescribing practices
3.    Co-prescribe naloxone to patients at risk of overdose
4.    Seek training on how to identify patients with drug addiction problems and how to help them
5.    Be willing to say no to patients when prescribing opioids and seek alternative pain treatment methods 

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