Doctor shopping is one common way that prescription drug abusers and addicts get access to their medication of choice, which presents a problem given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 120 people die every day in the US from drug overdose (in 2013, half of those were from prescription medications).
Doctor shopping means that patients literally “shop” for different doctors in different clinical facilities in order to get hold of more medications to satisfy their addiction. They cannot do the same with one doctor, because that causes suspicion that they are in fact abusing the prescribed drug—whether it’s an opioid, depressant, or stimulant. So shoppers visit doctors with the same complaint and symptoms, sometimes lying, to get more drugs unbeknownst to the doctor. Other shoppers use those drugs to sell to individuals who are addicted.
One problem is that only about half of physicians use prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP’s)—which are specifically designed to prevent patients from doctor shopping and getting their hands on an overabundance of addictive medications. This is much too low, as many health officials and addiction experts believe overdose deaths and addictions can be greatly reduced if all doctor’s used PDMP’s. Improvements to make the monitoring programs more effective and easier to use are currently being worked on (as doctors are often very busy as it is), such as allowing nurses and assistances to use the system on the physician’s behalf to lessen the workload of the primary doctor.
Doctor shopping can be greatly managed and prevented if PDMP’s become universal in all clinical settings that prescribe medications to patients.
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