KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Painkillers Create Quandary For Physicians

News outlets report on the hazards -- both in the ER and in maternity wards -- being brought about by painkiller use and abuse.

The New York Times: ER Doctors Face Quandary On Painkillers
Dental patients — mostly uninsured or indigent — are not unusual in emergency rooms. Poor patients may forgo preventive care and delay treatment until they face a medical crisis. In many states, adult dental benefits under Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor, have been scaled back or eliminated. And dentists often don't accept Medicaid patients. But emergency physicians like Dr. Lobitz cannot know whether someone who claims to be in agony from dental issues is telling the truth — or simply plans, he said, to "go to the next emergency room, next town over, and get another 30 Vicodin" (Saint Louis, 4/30).

Reuters: More US Babies Born To Mothers Who Abuse Painkillers
The rate of American babies being born with symptoms of opiate withdrawal, typically caused by maternal drug abuse, tripled from 2000 to 2009, according to a study that underscores the growing problem posed by powerful prescription painkillers in the United States. ... The surge in the number of babies born to mothers using these drugs is causing not just health problems but an larger burden on the Medicaid federal-state health insurance program for the poor, the researchers found (Pittman, 4/30).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.