Study: Physicians Not Following Guidelines On Painkiller Prescriptions

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File photo of the prescription drug Oxycontin.  (credit: Darren McCollester/GettyImages)

File photo of the prescription drug Oxycontin. (credit: Darren McCollester/GettyImages)

CBS Connecticut (con't)

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (CBS Connecticut) – A new study finds that doctors who prescribe powerful painkillers fail to follow up with their patients, leading to potential addiction.

According to the study conducted by Workers Compensation Research Institute, one in 12 injured workers who started using painkillers continued to take them three to six months later.

The institute examined the use of narcotics in 21 states and followed how physicians were monitoring their injured patients long-term. The report found that very few physicians were following the medical treatment guidelines. Popular painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin were frequently prescribed.

“This study addressed a very serious issue: how often doctors followed recommended treatment guidelines for monitoring injured workers under their care, who are longer-term users of narcotics,” Dr. Richard Victor, the institute’s executive director, said in a press release.

The report, “Longer-Term Use of Opioids,” studied 300,000 workers compensation claims and 1.1 million prescriptions associated with those claims. The study revealed that drug testing was used less frequently and the use of psychological evaluations remained low.

“This study will help public officials, employers, and other stakeholders understand as well as balance providing appropriate care to injured workers while reducing unnecessary risks to patients and costs to employers,” Victor added.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose deaths in the U.S. as a result of painkillers are up nearly 300 percent since 1999.

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