How the CDC’s Prescribing Guidelines are Hurting Patients

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Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers discuss how the CDC’s prescribing guidelines are hurting patients. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published their guidelines for prescribing opioid medications. To prevent misuse of these potent and addictive medications, the guidelines impose supply limits on the number of pills that can be dispensed by a primary care physician, and the number of refills a patient can receive. While the guidelines exempt cancer patients and those who suffer from chronic pain, other patients who are dealing with acute or long-term pain may no longer have access to effective pain relief because the medication is denied by their pharmacists or their insurance provider.

The CDC’s guidelines were designed to offer non-mandatory guidance for primary care physicians when they are treating a patient who needs effective pain management. However, other parties, including pharmacy chains and insurers, have focused only on certain aspects of the guidelines and turned them into mandatory policies. For example, over 50 percent of patients in the United States that suffer severe pain, either from surgery or an injury, may only receive a prescription for up to seven days of pills, regardless of the degree of pain the patient is still in when the prescription runs out.

Interestingly, opioid prescribing is currently lower than it has been in 18 years, and the rate of prescribing opioids has continued to drop since 2011. However, overdose fatalities have continued to climb. According to the CDC, over half of these fatalities can be attributed to illegally manufactured fentanyl, other chemically manufactured drugs that are similar to fentanyl, and heroin. Prescription opioids were the third leading cause of fatal overdoses.

Impact of Denying Opioids to Patients in Pain

Not all patients who take prescription opioids become addicted to them. Close to 18 million people in this country take an opioid medication to help manage the pain associated with various medical conditions. When prescribed correctly, it can provide effective relief from severe pain. When these patients are denied their medication, oftentimes, their pain returns, their medical condition worsens, they are unable to work or carry out daily activities, and some even resort to suicide. Feeling desperate, some may resort to street drugs that have a higher risk of overdose.

The AMA addressed what they believe to be a misapplication of the CDC guidelines by pharmacists, insurers, and other groups, saying that the dosage guidance is a recommendation, not a mandatory law. If a physician feels that a higher dose of an opioid is necessary, as opposed to what the CDC recommends, the patients should be able to receive the medication. Treating patients involves weighing the benefits and risks of prescribing certain medications based on the individual needs of the patient.

Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Patients Impacted by Prescribing Guidelines

If you were denied an opioid pain medication, causing you to suffer extreme pain or other physical or emotional conditions, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will examine the details of your case and secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve. Protecting your rights is our top priority. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent medical malpractice victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.