Primary care doctors say the greatest obstacle they face in prescribing opioids to treat chronic pain is scrutiny from regulators and law enforcement, according to a survey released earlier this year.
But that fear is misguided, says a study in the September issue of Pain Medicine, the journal of the American Academy of Pain Medicine.
Researchers reviewed nine years of medical board and local, state and federal law enforcement charges against doctors for improperly prescribing opioid analgesics. They found that 725 doctors were accused of criminal or administrative offenses from 1998 to 2006. The figure represents about one-tenth of 1% of practicing physicians, or one of every 954 doctors.
“The conclusion of our study is that there is risk [in prescribing opioids]; we’re not denying that,” said study co-author Myra Christopher. “But the risk is manageable and the risk has been exaggerated.”
The whole shebang.