Emergency room physicians are expected to be professionals, medical care providers who have the ability to use good judgment and provide the treatment needed with little supervision or oversight. Should these professionals have guidelines when it comes to prescribing and dispensing opioid prescriptions though? There are many reasons why guidelines should be put in place for this category of drugs. Right now Canada and the USA are both fighting an epidemic of opioid abuse, and many people who become addicted start off with a legitimate prescription for an opioid drug. One aspect of drug seeking behavior once the user starts to become dependent on the opioid is visiting the local ER and complaining of pain. When ER physicians are trained to spot drug seeking behavior and they have guidelines in place to follow this can reduce the amount of opioid drugs available for misuse on the street.
Few emergency room physician and medical care professionals would advocate a blanket ban on opioid prescriptions because there are patients who have a legitimate need for these medications. Studies have shown that when physicians are educated on substance abuse and they are trained to detect signs of addiction they are more likely to choose other methods of pain management for patients who display these symptoms. Acute care settings can be a big source of opioid drugs in almost any community, and these facilities are often the frequent targets of individuals who are trying to get pain medications to feed an opioid addiction. Guidelines can help physicians strike a fine balance between compassionate treatment and not enabling further addiction in a patient.