Misuse of prescription opioids is one of the defining health problems of our generation. The dramatic rise of opioid analgesic prescriptions in the US and Canada has been well documented, and opioids represent the most common cause of fatal prescription overdoses. On every shift, in every emergency department in the country, physicians struggle with the concerns of patients presenting with common pain complaints. Seeking to manage their patients’ symptoms in the face of dramatically rising prescription opioid misuse and fatal overdose, emergency physicians are challenged to distinguish those who are simply seeking pain relief, those who are seeking opioid prescriptions due to addiction, and those who fit both categories. Emergency care providers are also charged with balancing the pressures of meeting clinical care and patient satisfaction goals while fulfilling our moral obligation to provide primary and secondary prevention of opioid misuse.
About Esther Choo, MD MPHAssistant Professor of Emergency Medicine
Assistant Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice
Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University