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Overdose Patients Still Getting Drugs From Doctors

intmedPatients who are admitted into the Emergency Room for prescription painkiller overdoses are often still given prescriptions for their drug of choice well after they have had near fatal problems with pills. This is likely due to the fact that ER doctors very rarely communicate with the patient’s prescribing doctor. This significant oversight has caused many patients to continue abusing prescription painkillers and risk further overdose. Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine came to this conclusion after investigating information provided by insurance companies. The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Seventy percent of patients who overdosed were getting their drugs from the same doctor who prescribed the narcotic before the overdose…This signals a problem with the health system, but I don’t think it necessarily fingers doctors as being bad doctors,” explained Dr. Marc Larochelle, an assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.

Doctors who are treating patients that are prescribed prescription painkillers cannot rely on them disclosing the fact that they overdosed. Those who are addicted are not likely to admit to this for fear that their drugs will be taken away or they will be forced into treatment. In order to effectively handle this problem, Larochelle says that Emergency Room doctors and prescribing doctors have to communicate.

This is especially important because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released information stating that prescription drug overdoses are at an all-time high. According to reports, 47,000 people in the United States passed away from drug overdoses, that is a 14% increase from the year before. These numbers are only projected to increase if doctors are not aware that their patients are being treated for overdoses from the pills that are being prescribed.

As the prescription painkiller problem continues to grow, medical doctors are being cautioned about perpetuating the problem by prescribing the drugs to people who abuse them, however the problem may be better addressed if more information was shared, such as with prescription drug monitoring databases. Emergency Room doctors, patients, loved ones and other medical professionals need to maintain communication for the safest prescribing practices and to help minimize future overdoses.

Synthetic Marijuana Overdoses Cause Alarm

spiceNew Hampshire Governor Margaret Hassan declared a state of emergency this week after dozens of overdoses on a type of synthetic marijuana called “Smacked.” With more than 40 overdose situations in just three days, the Governor issued the declaration with the belief that there was a serious threat to public health.

The move allows the Department of Health and Human Services the power to “investigate, isolate or quarantine and require the destruction of the commodity in question”.

“These products pose a serious threat to public health, especially to young people, and it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to combat the recent rash of overdoses,” Governor Hassan stated in a release.

While they are specifically looking for Bubble Gum flavored Smacked, other brands of synthetic marijuana are still considered dangerous. In all, these substances are generally referred to as Spice. There have been many documented problems with these chemical compounds throughout the country in recent years.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), spice users may experience symptoms such as rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations. The compounds can also raise blood pressure and cause reduced blood supply to the heart and even cause heart attacks. Regular users may experience withdrawal and addiction symptoms.

The State of Emergency in New Hampshire will remain in effect for a period of 21 days unless otherwise ordered. One problem that many states face with these and other synthetic drugs is that chemists continue to formulate different variations that keep them a step ahead of law enforcement or other regulators before they know about them and can get them banned.

We have seen multiple people over the years seek treatment help for synthetic marijuana abuse and addiction. Unfortunately, the use of these drugs continues to climb around the country, especially among adolescent populations.