Many physicians use drug screening to monitor patients who use opioid pain medications because of the risks that this class of drugs can involve, but how does this screening impact the patient physician relationship? A new study shows that drug screening can have a negative effect one the relationship between the patient and the physician even when the patient is following the set rules and they are not using any substances except what the physician has prescribed. When the drug screening happens is also important, because if trust has not been developed in the relationship the patient may choose not to come back for further treatment. Doctors who treat patients with chronic pain or serious injuries often face a catch 22, because drug screening can eliminate the possibility that the drugs are being diverted or abused but it could also harm the relationship that the doctor has built up with the patient at the same time.
In the study on drug screening and the effects that this can have on the patient physician relationship an issue that has gained a lot of attention is finally being examined, and the results were a little surprising to some. A partnership between researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch and researchers at the University of Houston found that using urine drug screenings to monitor patients actually ups the risk that the patient will not come back for additional treatment. According to UH’s Bauer College of Business Institute for Health Care Marketing director and professor of marketing Partha Krishnamurthy “It is a balancing act. On one hand, concerns about patient safety and public health necessitate the monitoring of patients on opioid medications. On the other hand, aggressive monitoring may interfere with the therapeutic alliance.”