Rampant opioid addiction — with a high number of overdoses as a result — continues to be a public health crisis for Georgia and the entire nation.
Dr. Douglas M. Blackmon and Dr. David Paine, two Atlanta ophthalmologists and professors, write in a new Commentary for Georgia Health News that excessive prescription of opioids for surgical patients is a key factor in this problem.
On a hopeful note, they point out that several promising alternatives to such addictive drugs have been developed, allowing medical providers to “manage patients’ pain in ways that do not expose those patients to the risk of addiction.”
Unfortunately, the two physicians add, the current system of Medicare reimbursement for intraoperative and post-operative drugs is tilted in favor of opioids for pain management, while “providers must bear the cost” of safer alternatives.
Blackmon and Paine support a bill currently before Congress, called the NOPAIN Act, that would change reimbursement rules and give physicians more latitude in the types of pain treatment they can prescribe.