A report in the Archives of Internal Medicine urges doctors to be more cautious and conservative when it comes to prescribing drugs. An editorial accompanying the study notes that the problems associated with opioid medications for the treatment of chronic pain are rapidly growing.
The editorial notes that there isn’t good evidence that opioids help patients in the long run, Reuters reports. The editorial writers note that in 2007 alone, there were almost 11,500 opioid-related deaths in the United States. They say that opioid side effects can range from addiction to sleepiness to constipation.
Report author Dr. Gordon Schiff, of the Center for Patient Safety Research and Practice at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, urges that doctors consider nondrug therapy and prevention before prescribing drugs. He recommends putting off nonurgent drug treatment, starting treatment with only one new drug at a time, and being very vigilant about adverse drug effects. He also advises being skeptical about new drugs, and waiting until they have been on the market for a sufficient time before prescribing them.
Dr. Schiff says doctors should not automatically give patients drugs when they ask for them, and should stop treatment with unneeded medications.