Opioids and Liability: Understand Your Risk
Opioid-related overdose deaths have more than tripled in the past 20 years. Even more alarming, the rate of correlated emergency room visits has doubled in just the last five years(1). Many providers are unaware or unsure of their liability when it comes to prescribing opioid painkillers. And even when the limit of your liability seems clear, there is no guarantee that your patients understand that and it definitely doesn’t prevent them from filing a malpractice claim.
Our partner, OmniSure, has a host of resources on their website(2) to help you combat potential liability issues. Some suggestions include:
- PMP (prescription monitoring program): Participate in your state’s PMP to increase the effectiveness of information sharing among providers, pharmacies, and patients
- Provider education: Educate yourself and your staff on regulations, drug interactions, and protocols for handling adverse events
- Evidence-based treatment guidelines: Treatment solutions are constantly evolving, so stay updated on new ideas, statistics, and the latest recommendations
- Fight the addiction stigma: Ensure that your practice understands the importance of making patients feel comfortable discussing any destructive opioid-related patterns they may develop
- Patient education: help patients understand the signs and symptoms of addiction, as well as promote the help that is available to them
All of these tools can both improve patient safety and reduce potentially litigious situations for your practice.
Opioids are a necessary component of some patient treatment plans. Discussing all options with your patient is a necessary first step. It’s also important to consider alternative prescribing options, such as writing dispensing orders for fewer days and at lower dosages(3). This puts a system of checks and balances in place to more closely monitor patient behavior and in turn reveals potential addictive behavior earlier.
As a CARE LLC policyholder, you can receive discounted services from OmniSure, which includes access to the RiskFit® Helpline(4). This service provides guidance and assistance when you have questions about patient care, such as opioid prescribing. Contact us at CARE today. We can show you the many benefits of being of CARE client.