The evaluation of these patients by providers, physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and all those who work in a medical team, is a challenge and therefore we need to standardize the approach. We need to recognize that we’re dealing with a chronic illness that requires a team approach from multiple medical professionals.
It’s important that we have proper documentation through charts either actual or- in the future- virtual, that we all can feed into and retrieve information from. And the use of templates, so that we don’t forget what kind of tools we should approach and use in every single patient. So what forms to use, what agreements to use, checklists that we could apply. So a true standardized approach to chronic illness is needed, as we do with diabetes, with hypertension, with heart disease.
We are in the very early phases of integrating addiction medicine into clinical science, into clinical medicine. And I say that because in the past we were locking people up with mental illnesses, and addiction is considered to be a mental illness. We locked up people, institutionalize people that suffered from addictions. Nowadays, we have accepted it that addiction is a chronic illness. We accept that it’s a treatable condition, but we still have to struggle even as physicians with stereotypes that we need to overcome. We’re making progress, in my opinion.