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Opioid prescribing on the decline?

In recent times, many safety concerns have been raised when it comes to opioid painkillers. This has led to opioid prescribing practices getting an increased amount of attention from the public and state/federal regulators. Given this environment, one might wonder whether there have been major changes in physician behavior regarding the prescribing of these medications in recent years.

A recent survey suggests that cutting back on opioid prescribing has become rather common among doctors. The survey was conducted last month and almost 3,000 U.S. physicians responded to it.

In the survey, doctors were asked about their opioid prescribing practices. Over half of the respondents said that, over the past year or two, they had reduced their prescribing of opioids. Such reductions were particularly common among respondents who practiced in internal or family medicine.

A smaller number of the surveyed doctors reported stopping prescribing opioids altogether over this period. Specifically, a little short of one in ten physicians reported this.

What was the most common reason respondents who cut back on or eliminated their prescribing of opioids gave for the changes they made in their prescribing practices? Holding the top spot were concerns that opioid prescribing carries too many risks and hassles. Over a third of the doctors who indicated they had cut back on or stopped prescribing opioids cited this reason.

Now, reductions in opioid prescriptions raise their own set of concerns regarding patient well-being. This includes concerns that such reductions might end up hurting some chronic pain patients. The survey suggests this is a concern a fair number of doctors have. Over a third of the polled doctors indicated that they felt that reductions in the prescribing of opioids have been hurting patients. One wonders what role such concerns will play in the discussion and debate on opioid prescribing in upcoming years.

As this underscores, there can be all sorts of different things for doctors to factor in when it comes to their decisions regarding their practices related to the prescribing of opioids.

Now, there can also be of very wide range of factors for physicians to consider when legal issues come up for them, such as license-related issues, in relation to their prescription practices. Skilled health care lawyers understand the complexity of such matters and can provide doctors facing such matters with explanations of the different factors at play in the matter and their legal options.

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