Steve Diaz, an emergency medicine doctor at Augusta’s MaineGeneral Health, says he knows what patients want when they come to him in pain. Drugs. And preferably strong ones.
“The only thing they think of is, ‘Do I get a pill?’” he said.
And with abuse of prescription painkillers like OxyContin, methadone and Percocet soaring, the instinct, public health experts say, should be to say no. Or at least, not necessarily. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out a new guideline this spring, advising doctors to prescribe the highly addictive drugs, known as opioids, in smaller doses and only when truly needed.
But another federal policy — a provision of the 2010 federal health law linking hospital payments to patient satisfaction surveys — may be complicating efforts to curb opioid prescribing as part of the nation’s effort to address the painkiller abuse epidemic.
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