Doctors Underprescribe For Fear Of Prosecution

By KIM ARCHER World Staff Writer
Tulsa World

A study shows that doctors needn’t fear prescribing pain medicine.

Many physicians underprescribe pain medications for patients who need them out of fear of prosecution, but a national study shows that few of the nation’s doctors ever get in trouble for prescribing narcotics improperly.

The study, which appeared in the Sept. 9 edition of the journal Pain Medicine, shows that only one-tenth of 1 percent of the nation’s nearly 700,000 practicing physicians were prosecuted or sanctioned between 1998 and 2006 for prescribing opioid-analgesics improperly.

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson is one of nine authors of the study and was the only state attorney general involved.

“The overriding purpose of the study was to see what a typical prosecution of this type looked like, if there was any such thing,” he said.

“The big surprise to all of us was that the largest group prosecuted were family practice physicians,” he said.

Few were pain medicine specialists.

The perception that physicians are often prosecuted for prescribing opioid narcotics improperly has left many people suffering with chronic pain, Edmondson said. More…