Workshop Teaches Doctors New Painkiller Prescription Rules

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is urging physicians to change their practices to prevent prescription drug overdoses.

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Photo: Sharyn Marrow (Flickr)

Indiana ranks fourteenth worst in the country for the number of deaths per 100,000 people caused by opioids.

Doctors and other health professionals are trying to navigate new state rules that aim to curb deaths caused by prescription painkillers.

The Indiana Attorney General held a workshop today in Bloomington to help explain the new requirements.

Doctors are now required to check the state’s prescription monitoring system to ensure the patient isn’t getting the same medication from multiple doctors. They’re also barred from prescribing the drugs without regular, in-person visits with the patient.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller says while doctors generally know those rules, they could use advice on how to implement them.

“We really need to focus on changing the dynamic between doctors and patients so they have a healthier view of the use of these narcotics and really the best practice of the profession. So I think changing the relationship and that discussion so it meets best practices as established by the medical community is really our goal here,” Zoeller says.

Indiana is in the top five states for opioid deaths over the age of twelve and in 2009 the Centers for Disease Control estimated opioid abuse costs Indiana more than 70 billion dollars. IU Health Physician Palmer Mackie says that’s because the drugs slow workforce productivity.

“You would think that perhaps the biggest cost might be addiction and addiction care or co-morbid conditions associated with the addiction, but it’s just like back pain and depression – the highest single cost is loss of productivity to our economy,” Mackie says.

The workshops the attorney general is holding across the state teach physicians how to talk to patients about prescription painkillers and how to warn them about potential long-term health effects if they abuse the drugs.

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