Physicians Struggle to Assess Legitimacy of Patient Pain Complaints
Despite decades of research, the report says physicians have few tools to measure pain objectively. Patients are usually asked to rate the pain on a scale from one to 10 or indicate their pain level based on a series of cartoon faces escalating from discomfort to severe pain.
According to Joel Saper, director of the Michigan Head Pain and Neurological Institute in Ann Arbor, approximately 15-20 percent of patients seeking pain medication are probably not as incapacitated as they say. The reasons for exaggerating pain vary; some patients may want to resell pain medication, while others are addicts and others seek certification for disability payments.
The difficulty in diagnosing pain poses a problem for physicians as opioid abuse increases. With prescriptions up 48 percent since 1999, opioids are now the country's second-leading cause of accidental death after car crashes, according to the report. Several bills introduced before Congress would require physicians to undergo additional training in opioid use and abuse before they are able to renew their license to prescribe medication.
Experts say primary care physicians, who are responsible for treating 80 percent of pain issues, should take the time to understand a patient's history and circumstances before prescribing medication.
Read the Wall Street Journal report on pain medication.
Related Articles on Pain Management:
Florida Pain Clinics Stop Dispensing Pills
CMS Postpones Ending Payments for Pain Pump Drug
Study: Viewing Photo of Romantic Partner Eases Pain for Women
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