Kansas And Missouri Professional Licensing Attorney Discuss The Opioid Crisis In Dentistry

The American Dental Association (ADA) takes an active role in bringing awareness to its members about treating dental pain with prescription painkillers. The ADA recently discussed dentists’ responsibility to uncover drug-seeking behavior as well as emerging trends on how to handle patients with a sensitivity to or a history of opioid addiction.  The failure to adequately address the potential for opioid addiction has the potential to create an ethical dilemma for the practitioner.  If you are a dentist encountering professional discipline in Kansas or Missouri for prescribing narcotics to patients, then you need to contact a seasoned professional licensing attorney to fight for you.

The ADA concisely set forth the role of the dental professional relative to pain management and the potential for addiction. Access to leftover causes a significant portion of the opioid epidemic or unused prescriptions are falling into the wrong hands. The ADA warns its members to avoid prescribing painkillers for a period longer than necessary. For instance, the ADA indicated that dentists should prescribe painkillers for 2 to 3 days after implant surgery. If possible, the precise dosage should be given. Studies have proved that some flexibility is required with the prescription dosages because some patients genuinely need the medicine, twenty-four percent (24%) of patients reported that they continued to take the painkillers for more than ten days after the surgery.

Overprescription is a problem as well. Some patients, as stated above, experience excessive pain and require a longer course of pain medication. Notwithstanding, prolonged pain is indicative of an underlying medical problem such as an infection. Infections can be treated with antibiotics and once alleviated; the pain should subside. Consequently, the patient no longer needs the painkiller. The ADA considers good dental practice to be one in which the dentist prescribes a short course of painkillers and carefully examines the patient and evaluates the need to prolong the course once the prescription has ended.

The ADA considers dentists to be in a unique position in their patients’ lives to assess drug abuse. Dentists should evaluate their patients’ behavior and determine whether the patient is actively seeking drugs. The dentist can educate their patient and help that person obtain necessary services to combat any addiction problem.  To that end, the ADA encourages its members to engage in a discourse designed to discuss the patient’s substance abuse history.  The ADA is advocating for dentists to receive remuneration for this service. Currently, dentists cannot bill for these interludes because they are not part of the dental hygiene regimen.  A recent survey showed that twenty-three percent of patients reported a history of substance abuse when screened during a visit. Practitioners then had the chance to refer their patients to other health care providers. The study proves that early intervention can prevent continued opioid dependence.

The ADA takes an unequivocal stance on drug seeking behavior. The ADA has opined that a dentist violates the dental code of conduct by prescribing opioid-based medication to an addicted patient. Additionally, the dentist has an ethical obligation to discuss the dentist’s suspicion of drug abuse and offer referrals for treatment. The ADA suggests that the dentist should be delicate when addressing this issue with their patient. Also, the ADA encourages its members to elicit help from their staff in identifying drug addicted patients. The ADA recognized that patients sometimes open up to staff more readily that to the dentist. Accordingly, the staff is in a unique position to inform the dentist of what they learned and determine the appropriate course of action.

Beware of the signs of addiction

If you or a member of your staff are facing professional discipline in Kansas or Missouri from prescribing painkillers, you need an experienced and dedicated professional licensing attorney to fight for you. Call Missouri Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger today at 785-979-4353 to schedule a consultation. Attorney Sanger has dedicated her professional life to protecting yours.