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Research examines dentists' role in painkiller abuse
Date:7/1/2011

e painkillers, but 41 percent acknowledged that patients would probably have some left over.

The survey also found some evidence that dentists can sometimes be shy about raising substance abuse as an issue with patients, even as they realize they are sometimes being used to get drugs. One in three of the dentists said they did not routinely ask new patients about substance abuse, but 58 percent of the dentists said they believed they have been the victim of prescription fraud or theft.

While dentists should guard against over-prescribing addictive drugs, especially to patients they don't know well, Kenna said, they retain an obligation to help all patients, even ones who are addicted, to manage pain.

"There are ways that dentists can work with patients," he said. "People who have a substance abuse problem do have legitimate pain. They do have a right to have some pain control and may even need more. But you hope there is a family member who will take control and make sure they only take the recommended dose."

For all the things dentists could do, especially with more research to clarify the best prescribing practices, Kenna acknowledged that dentists are not currently compensated for the time required to investigate the drug use preferences and habits of their patients.

Kenna said he hopes to learn more about how the profession approaches opioids and addiction with a national survey of dentists.

"It's a growing problem in the United States," he said. "It's a serious problem."


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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

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