Physicians, medical practices, and hospitals now have an educational resource to help educate themselves in the ongoing battle against pill scammers -- also known as doctor shoppers.
An educational booklet is now available for free through the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) at www.pamedsoc.org/pillscamnr.
As part of its "Pills for ills, not thrills" campaign, PAMED developed the booklet at the request of members across the state. Pennsylvania physicians have been growing concerned about the matter ever since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Report from November 2011 identified Pennsylvania as one of the worst in the nation for drug overdose deaths.
While these abused medications are sometimes stolen from patients, hospitals, and pharmacies, and later sold on the street, what's equally disturbing is that in some cases doctors are duped to write prescriptions by those running scams.
"It's important that all physicians work together to combat prescription drug misuse and abuse," said C. Richard Schott, MD, 2012-'13 president of PAMED. "No one wins -- not patients, physicians, or those with addictions -- if scammers have their way."
The educational reference booklet produced by PAMED helps physicians identify red flags related to pill-seeking doctor shoppers, while also suggesting screening tools to separate patients with true pain from scammers. Since some scammers may be hooked on prescription medications, the booklet also provides resources for addiction treatment.
In addition, the booklet contains information that physicians can provide to patients on how to properly dispose of medications that are no longer needed.
According to Dr. Schott, scammers in search of pills are harmful in more than one way, and that's why physicians are concerned.
"Scammers waste valuable time that could be spent with patients who have truly painful conditions, and furthermore they divert medications away from proper use," he said.
He also believes a controlled substance database would help, and says that PAMED plans to encourage Pennsylvania politicians to work on legislation to create such a database.
Those interested in receiving a free copy of the educational booklet should visit www.pamedsoc.org/pillscamnr.
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