How Unconscious Physician Biases About Race, Ethnicity And Pain Plays A Role In The Opioid Crisis
A new study reveals that residents of neighborhoods with the highest proportions of white people were more than twice as likely to be prescribed an opioid pain reliever than were residents of neighborhoods where whites were most scarce. “Medicine has a long, unsavory history of expecting people of color to tolerate larger levels of pain,” said Dr. Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University. In other news on the crisis: naloxone, wrongful death lawsuits, opioid-based medication and more.
Los Angeles Times:
Why Opioids Hit White Areas Harder: Doctors There Prescribe More Readily, Study Finds
Across California, a blessing has become a curse for patients who dwell in overwhelmingly white communities: their ready access to opioid pain relievers. A new study of prescribing practices across all of California’s 1,760 ZIP codes helps explain why opiates, some of medicine’s most addictive drugs, have wreaked more havoc on white communities than on communities of color. The answer, at least in part, appears to lie in unconscious physician biases about race, ethnicity and pain that more typically leave minority patients underserved and undermedicated, authors of the new study said. (Healy, 2/11)
Naloxone And Needles: Group Hands Out Drug-Use Supplies To Prevent Opioid Deaths
On a bitter cold afternoon in front of the central bus stop in Bangor, Maine, about a half-dozen people recently surrounded a folding table covered with handmade signs offering free clean syringes, coffee and naloxone, the drug also known as Narcan that can reverse an opioid overdose. They're with a group called the Church of Safe Injection that is handing out clean drug-using supplies in cities around the U.S. (Becker, 2/12)
The Associated Press:
Doctor, Hospital Face 15th Lawsuit Over Drug Doses, Deaths
A 15th wrongful-death lawsuit has been filed against an Ohio hospital system and a now-fired intensive care doctor who's under investigation for ordering possibly fatal pain medication doses for dozens of patients. Many of the lawsuits allege patients in the Columbus-based Mount Carmel Health System received lethal doses of the powerful painkiller fentanyl ordered by Dr. William Husel without families knowing. (2/11)
The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Using Opioids To Treat Addiction Is Considered The Gold Standard. So Why Aren’t More Doctors Prescribing Them?
Opioid-based medications that help curb cravings, prevent overdoses, and allow drug users to get through the day without the fear of painful withdrawal have been proven to help people achieve lasting recovery far more reliably than quitting without medical help. But, doctors say, federal regulations surrounding these treatment medications — and the special physician training and monitoring required to dispense them — have deterred many of their colleagues from obtaining the license needed to prescribe the drug. (Whelan, 2/11)
Health Plans Don’t Want Patients On Opioids. So What Are They Doing For Pain?
Patients seeking other pain treatment options often find that their insurers won’t foot the bill or are forcing them to jump through maddening hoops to get coverage. Experts in and out of government worry that this will make it more difficult to reverse the deadly opioid crisis that killed more than 47,000 people nationwide in 2017, even as doctors cut back on opioid prescribing and state and federal governments step up efforts to prevent and treat addiction. (Demko, 2/11)
Mass. Issues Guidelines After Boston Nurse Was Denied Life Insurance For Carrying Naloxone
Massachusetts is advising life and disability insurers not to deny coverage to good Samaritans who carry the overdose-reversal drug naloxone. The guidelines, issued earlier this month, follow a WBUR story in December about a Boston nurse who was denied life insurance because she carries the drug. (Bebinger, 2/12)