Previously, we began discussing the issue of prescription opioid abuse, and the fact that there can be valid differences among physicians regarding the use of opioids in managing chronic pain. One of the interesting things to consider on this issue is that the current push for caution in prescribing opoids is that it is, in many respects, a reaction to efforts made in the 1980s to get doctors to be more sensitive in managing their patients’ pain.
As a result of the growth of the need for pain control, physicians were subjected to medical board scrutiny for failing to manage their patients’ pain, as well as medical malpractice for patient abuse. That the outlook has changed over 20 years later is clear, due in large part to abuse of painkillers. Though this problem needs to be addressed, physicians now are often encouraged to use caution and to take a conservative approach, and may in some cases be pressured to avoid prescribing opioids when it really would be best for the patient.
That opioids have a valid use in managing chronic pain is certainly true, and physicians shouldn’t feel that their profession is under threat for making valid use of opioids to truly help their patients. State medical boards, though, may take an aggressive approach on the issue in order to show that they are doing their part to address the problem, which in some areas has been called an epidemic.
Whenever a physician comes under investigation by their state medical board or receives complaints regarding prescription painkillers, whether because of the number of medications, potential interactions of medications, concerns about dosage and duration, or other related matters, it is important to work with experienced legal counsel to minimize their legal liabilities. This includes not only the possibility of medical malpractice, but also matters of professional discipline.
An experienced attorney can help ensure that an accused physician has the best possible presentation and defense in the process, and that any disciplinary consequences are minimized.