By any metric, opioid-related overdoses in the United States have reached epidemic proportions. Many intertwined causes have led to this crisis, from reduced access to substance-abuse treatment, to increased unemployment spurring use of prescription opioids, to online pharmacies that illegally supply prescription opioids to patients.
But health care providers are also widely held responsible for overprescribing prescription opioids. While research testing this hypothesis is mixed, it’s clear that efforts to curb the epidemic need to involve physicians and hospitals. The adoption of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) is one such effort that holds promise, though it must be made more effective.
Are Doctors to Blame?
It is often argued that growing advocacy for the systematic measurement of patient pain in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as well as pay-for-performance measurement of provider quality based on their ability to relieve patients’ pain (among other things), spurred overprescribing.–Harvard Business Review