Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, our Surgeon General, recently released a report that, among other things, highlights the gap between the widespread substance use disorder problems the country faces and the relatively small amount of abuse treatment. Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times article.

The majority of people who misuse substances do not develop a use disorder, the report said. But roughly one in seven Americans — 14.6 percent of the population — are expected to develop such a disorder at some point.

Only about 10 percent of people with a substance use disorder receive any type of specialty treatment, the report said. And while more than 40 percent of people with such a disorder also have a mental health condition, fewer than half receive treatment for either.

This problem touches everyone. We can change our approach to detect this sooner and get at-risk patients into treatment. Checking every patient, every time, for their prescription history helps find these at-risk patients sooner and more often.

How do you find at-risk patients? Do you check everyone, every time? Let me know how you identify your 14.6%.

Whenever possible, orthopaedic surgeons should request and review old medical records and speak with the patient’s primary physician about past medication problems. Currently, states have Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs designed to assist law enforcement in the identification of doctor shoppers; these data are also accessible to physicians.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Now, March 2014

The CDC advises providers to use PDMPs… States should consider ways to increase their use … available real-time, and alerts to prescribers.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention
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