Every state in the U.S. currently faces a devastating opioid crisis. The addictive prescription drugs have caused 1700 deaths by overdose in Florida alone. Many factors contribute to the widespread abuse of opiates, including the over-prescription of these drugs by physicians.
To combat over-prescription, the state of Florida mandated all doctors and dentists take a two-hour continued education course on prescribing opioids. However, according the Florida Department of Health, 25 percent of Florida’s physicians did not participate in the mandatory training.
The state required this training course for some 114,000 medical professionals, including physicians, physician assistants and advanced registered nurse practitioners, all of whom can prescribe medication. The compliance rate among these professionals was nearly 75 percent.
The training included topics like the current standards for prescribing opioids, alternatives to opioids and the risk of opioid addiction. The Florida Department of Health stated that it will send non-compliance letters to those who did not participate.
What are prescription opioids?
Opioids, or opiates, are a highly addictive class of drugs commonly used to treat pain. In addition to the illegal substance heroin, they include prescription drugs like:
The negative effects of over-prescription
The over-prescription of these medications contributed significantly to Florida’s current addiction crisis. In addition to being extremely addictive, prescription opioids can also lead to the abuse of other substances. For example, 80 percent of people who use heroin first abused prescription opiates.
The possession, sale and trafficking of prescription or illegal opioids can also have criminal consequences, including fines, community service, probation and jail time. Even if a patient is motivated by addiction, the state still prosecutes drug crimes harshly.
It is a shame that thousands of physicians chose not to do their part in fighting Florida’s crisis. Doctors have a duty of care to their patients. This includes participating in state-mandated continuing education programs—especially concerning something as dire as the opioid crisis.