Survey results highlight need for addiction education

October 3, 2007

Medical board survey shows increased prosecution of overprescribers and need for addiction education

According to a survey of state medical board members, prosecutions of physicians who overprescribe pain medications are on the rise. The survey was performed in 2004 by the Federation of State Medical Boards and the Wisconsin Pain and Policy Studies Group and the results were subsequently published in the Journal of Pain. The survey was sent to 693 state board members and received a 40% response rate (n=258). Researchers then compared the 2004 results with those of earlier studies from 1991 and 1997.Thirty-five percent of those surveyed believed that law enforcement is becoming more involved in the investigation and prosecution of physicians for their opioid-prescribing practices. In addition, although respondents did show a better understanding of addiction from earlier surveys, results showed 69% of respondents believe drug addiction to be both a behavioral and physiological condition. One in five of those surveyed said they consider addiction only in physiological terms. According to the authors, the findings show a need for continued education of healthcare professionals and regulators on what constitutes addiction because misconceptions can adversely influence disciplinary determinations for physicians suspected of overprescribing.

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