Texas Legislature May Restrict Doctors' Ability to Prescribe Painkillers

The Texas Legislature may start looking over your doctor's shoulder when he or she starts prescribing painkillers, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

One of the measures being considered for the 2019 session would limit the ability of physicians to prescribe opioids.

In 2016, more than 1300 Texans died from opioid overdoses, and Karen Hearod of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says much of the nation's current opioid addiction crisis can be blamed on doctor error.

"Providers began to prescribe oipiods for conditions that had not been prescribed previously, like headaches, fibromyalgia, and lower back pain, and now we know that opioids are not effective for those kinds of conditions," she told an interim Legislative committee looking into the issue.

Hearod says doctors also started prescribing larger doses of painkillers for longer periods of time, pushing the prescripition of opioids up 300% between 1999 and 2010.

"Not only did the volume of opioids prescribed increase, but well intentioned doctors started prescribing opioids that are high risk, and are more likely to lead to addiction," she said.

This isn't the first time that blame for the opioid addiction crisis has been laid at the feet of health care proviers.

Bexar County Metro Health Director Dr. Colleen Bridger told San Antonio City Council last month that the craze of declaring pain 'the fifth vital sign' in the 1990s, and grilling patients on their pain level on a scale of one to ten prompted hospitals, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies to jump into pain killer manufacturing and distribution, laying the groundwork for today's crisis.

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