Opioid risk assessment is the single most important thing we can do to decrease death due to opioids...Every physician should look for signs of abuse, check board of pharmacy reports, run urine drug screens, etc.
Scottsdale, AZ (PRWEB) November 19, 2012
The pain management physicians at Arizona Pain Specialists have responded to recent media reports by the L.A. Times and CNN on prescription drug-related deaths by encouraging increased physician-patient education on the role of opioids for pain management.
Both the November 11, 2012 L.A. Times article “Legal Drugs, Deadly Outcomes” and CNN’s November 18 “Deadly Dose” documentary, addressed the skyrocketing prescription drug epidemic in the United States. Statistics report that every 19 minutes someone dies from a narcotic-related overdose. More people die from prescription drug-related deaths than in fatal car accidents, making prescription drug-related deaths the number one cause of accidental death in the United States.
“Opioid abuse has been a very important issue to us since the inception of Arizona Pain Specialists,” says Dr. Paul Lynch, M.D. and co-founder of Arizona Pain Specialists. “We have always been a leader in this discussion, designing the 12-step opioid protocol in 2008 which has become the safest protocol in the industry.”
Lynch states that besides the risk of death related to misuse, extended use of opioids can lead to dependence, addiction and increased tolerance of the pain medication itself, which in turn may encourage patients to take higher doses. In addition, he says recent data shows that instead of relieving pain, taking increased dosages of pain medication only heightens pain receptors in some situations.
To ensure patient safety, Arizona Pain providers follow the strict 12-step opioid protocol with a compliance checklist for long-term opioid therapy. The Arizona Pain team only prescribes opioid medications when the patient’s pathology warrants such a use, when the patient satisfies specific criteria and when the patient has failed other, lower risk treatment options.
“While we understand that opioid prescriptions play an important role within pain management, and oftentimes prove to be beneficial for a lot of patients, we pride ourselves on being aligned with the supporting research and believe in low to moderate dose opioid therapy,” says Dr. Tory McJunkin, Lynch’s partner in co-founding Arizona Pain Specialists. “Having treated over 30,000 patients over the last five years, we have never had an overdose death due to our stringent protocols.”
McJunkin states that opioids can be prescribed in some circumstances, and many of Arizona Pain’s patients are treated with these medications, however, great care must be taken to ensure safety.
“These are not benign treatments — our team goes to great lengths to describe the risks of these medications when they are prescribed,” says Dr. McJunkin. “We typically do not prescribe high doses of opioid medications as research continues to show that this regiment has much greater risks for patients with few long-term benefits as compared to lower doses,” adds Dr. McJunkin.
According to a recent study conducted by the Arizona Pain Specialists’ Research Department, 69% of Arizona Pain Specialists’ patients were able to reduce their opioid dosage with the help of non-narcotic medication, and 52% came completely off of opioids.
“Opioid risk assessment is the single most important thing we can do to decrease death due to opioids,” says Dr. Lynch. “Every physician should look for signs of abuse, check board of pharmacy reports, run urine drug screens, etc.” In addition, Lynch warns patients not to mix pills such pain pills, sleeping pills, anxiety pills, etc.
Arizona Pain Specialists aims to help their patients by providing other treatment options first before providing pain medications. Many of these alternatives to opioids can help a patient with their pain without requiring any medication at all, which means that they can continue to live a productive life without potentially harming themselves by using or abusing opioid medications.
As the prescription drug epidemic reaches new heights, and prescription overdoses kill more people than heroin and cocaine, Arizona Pain Specialists believes that this problem is preventable.
“We see many people saying they need narcotics, and sometimes we must have a very honest discussion with them, offer them a better solution for their pain, and help get them off opioids,” says Dr. Lynch. “Patient well-being and safety is our top priority, and at Arizona Pain Specialists, we strive to treat every patient as we would our own mother or father.”
About Arizona Pain
The team at Arizona Pain Specialists works together to provide relief for various types of chronic pain, including back, neck, facial, joint, hip and cancer pain, as well as other ailments. These specialists work with one mission in mind: “To change lives by delivering world-class pain management care that we would want for our own families.” For more information on Arizona Pain Specialists, visit Arizonapain.com.