WJHL.com - Federal health care reform could add to pain pill epidemic

Federal health care reform could add to pain pill epidemic

An area doctor said new health care reform rules could make it easier for patients to obtain pain pills they do not need.

It's a startling revelation considering new numbers out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show for the 11th straight year drug overdose deaths increased.

The numbers are from 2010, which is the latest available year for the data, but the report shows 38,000 deaths linked to overdoses.

Most of those deaths were accidental and most involved pain-killers, particularly opiods, which include Ocxycontin and Vicodin.

Doctor Bruce Gibbon works is an Emergency Medicine physician with Wellmont Health System.

He said ER doctors try to root out pain pill abusers, but because of new health care reform rules that tie patient satisfaction to financial reimbursement from the government, there is a good chance they will write pain pill prescriptions in cases where they are not needed.

"I hope that individually I treat the patients based on what their medical needs are...but, I don't think it's reasonable to say that these new policies will not have an impact on p

prescribing as a general practice," said Doctor Gibbon.

One of the nurses in the Emergency Room at Bristol Regional Medical Center said most of the overdose cases the department sees that involve pain pills occur with young adults between the ages of 20 and 30.

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