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Initiative helps eliminate inappropriate opioid prescribing by medical providers

We trust our physicians to treat our pain, but what happens when one causes it?

The North Carolina Medical Board implemented the Safe Opioid Prescribing Initiative as a proactive measure to check on medical providers writing prescriptions for opioids. Jean Brinkley is the board’s communications director.

“it gives the board the opportunity to intervene. Again, it is proactive as opposed to reactive," Brinkley said. "Instead of waiting to see if a complaint from a patient or from a family member of a patient, we are instead looking at all of the prescribers in the state and trying to find individuals who meet certain criteria.”

That criteria includes physicians who prescribe at high volumes and high doses. Brinkley tells us that since Jan. 28, the board has investigated 99 of these cases. About 30% of those 99 cases resulted in a private action and 10% resulted in some type of public adverse action against the licensee.

Doctors are also changing how they prescribe. As a gynecologist in High Point, Dr. Henry Dorn performs surgery.

"In response to what’s going on in the community, we have been prescribing less and less for our post-op patients," Dorn said. "The interesting thing is very few of our patients come back saying they need more medicine.”

He tells FOX8 that research will soon help doctors know just how many pills to give. He said, “there are some current trials going on looking at how much do patients need postoperatively.”

The North Carolina Medical Board now requires physicians who prescribe controlled substances to complete continuing education in prescribing practices. This continuing requirement was put in place last year.