The Role of Physicians in Addressing Prescription Med Abuse

According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse, more than 100 million people in this country suffer from chronic pain, and for some opioid therapy may be the only option for relief.  Physicians often walk a thin line in the desire to confront the public health emergency while upholding our oath to reduce the suffering of our patients.

Robert E. Schaaf, M.D., president of the N.C. Medical Society, says “We, as physicians and physician assistants, have a responsibility to stop the abuse of opioids, as it saps the human and economic resources of our state and country.”  This responsibility includes the use of the Controlled Substance Reporting System, an online registry to track prescriptions for controlled substances and to help ensure patients are getting the medications they need while not abusing them.

Unfortunately, a woefully small number of licensed practitioners in North Carolina use CSRS.  According to the state’s Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disability and Substance Abuse Services, as of April 2014, approximately 18,700 dispensers and practitioners were registered to use the system.  At the end of 2014, approximately 43,000 physicians and PAs were licensed to practice in the state by the North Carolina Medical Board.

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