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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Patients Sign Prescription Drug Contracts

Doctors in the field of pain management have very little assurance that their patients will use pain narcotics as prescribed. There are a number of people who are prescribed medicine that abuse the drugs that they are given which is a slippery slope that can easily spiral out of control. There have been a number of cases where doctors have been held responsible in one way or another for the accidental overdose death of their patient; in an attempt to protect themselves, some doctors are no requiring a signature to ensure that the patient will take their drugs as prescribed. In 2007, 11,499 people in the United States died from opioid overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That was more than the number of overdose deaths for heroin and cocaine combined.

The most effective way to prevent accidental overdoses of chronic pain patients is to discourage patients from thinking that they can consume as much as they want without consequences. Doctors are now asking patients to sign "pain contracts" or "opioid treatment agreements" listing the rules patients must follow to take these drugs safely as well as: require patients to submit to blood or urine drug tests, fill their prescriptions at a single pharmacy or refuse to accept pain medication from any other doctor. Failure to comply with the rules may result in the doctor dropping a patient from their practice.

Pain contracts may be a step in the right direction for doctors attempting to take back control of pain management. Patients keen on abusing their medications are going find it harder and harder to doctor shop as well as receiving early refills on their prescriptions. If one's month long prescription does not last the whole month then the patient will be on their own until it can be refilled.

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