Doctors Threatened When Saying “NO” to Patients re Opioids
Threats. Harassment. Attacks. There have been reports recently about practitioners saying “No” to patients requesting opioids, and either being threatened or actually harmed. In Minnesota, five people were shot, and one killed, by a man who had been denied painkillers. A report in the Baltimore Sun states, “Doctors who treat pain say threats of violence escalated markedly in recent years as mounting legal and regulatory pressure stemming from the deadly opioid epidemic led many to prescribe alternatives and taper their patients off addictive painkillers.”
Responses from a 2019 poll of pain specialists showed that almost 50% of them had been threatened, and those threats revolved around opioid management. Doctors have dismissed patients, and have ramped up security measures, such as installing alarm systems and panic buttons. But many smaller clinics cannot afford these measures. Other steps taken to combat this escalation in violence: meetings between clinicians and law enforcement, de-escalation lessons, better knowledge of opioid alternatives, and fighting addiction and its causes.
Look for Dr. David Cosio’s article in the next issue of PWJ—PAINWeek Journal: Being Held Hostage? Use Psychological Strategies for Resolving Difficult Patient Behaviors.
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