Painkiller abuse in the ER? Not going away

Just read this, and worthy as its ideas are, as long as reimbursement is tied to patient satisfaction, the problem will remain and get worse. As long as undertreatment of pain can be "malpractice," the problem will remain and get worse.

In addition, in the ER physicians and nurses both are guilty of failing to educate patients about the potentially addictive qualities of the prescriptions we send them away with. I've treated a lot of people who have had a legitimately hideous injury and been surprised to find themselves addicted to painkillers. I'd argue they're more physically dependent on them, but either way they look difficult to stop taking. Those people are angry, and I don't blame them. "No one told me," they say. "Now I'm a drug addict."

And I've seen some people who were injured, got hooked, and went down very very dark pathways, ending up on the street shooting up who-knows-what. Often they were upstanding citizens who broke a leg or something and were given Percocet or Lortab. How often does that happen? OFTEN.

We should at least give fair warning. And we give out narcotics like Skittles. I'm not at all surprised at the prescription abuse epidemic. Lortab for everyone! And if they don't get it, they're mad, because they've gotten entitled to having it. Providers write for it just to shut people up. These people throw unbelievable fits.