It is probably fair to say that doctors in the United States have witnessed to the full extent the prescription opioid epidemic facing Americans. Doctors prescribe the powerful narcotics and then are required to treat those who become dependent. Unfortunately, while more doctors are becoming versed in the field of addiction medicine, new research indicates that many doctors are not taking advantage of the resources available for helping curb the opioid problem.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, found that only 53 percent of primary care physicians use their state’s prescription drug monitoring program and just over one-fifth of doctors were unaware that their state even had a program, MedicalXpress reports. Prescription drug monitoring programs are designed to help doctors combat “doctor shopping,” the act of going to multiple doctors for prescription narcotics.
The researchers surveyed 420 primary care physicians regarding their knowledge of prescription drug monitoring databases, according to the article. There’s no question that pharmaceutical databases are crucial in combating prescription drug abuse, yet many doctors have complaints regarding the programs ease of use.
The findings indicated that fifty-eight percent of participants said the information was too time-consuming to access, and 28 percent said the information provided by the database was in a format that was difficult to use. Only 31 percent of doctors who used the database found it very easy to use and 38 percent found it somewhat easy.
“The success of these programs depends on physicians’ knowledge, impressions and use of them,” study leader Lainie Rutkow, JD, PhD said in a news release. “While awareness of the programs is relatively high, barriers exist. The information in our report about the barriers physicians face will give states something to focus on.”
Every state except Missouri has a prescription drug monitoring database in place, the article notes.
The research was published in Health Affairs.