Almost all physicians who write prescriptions for opioid painkillers exceed the federally recommended three-day
dosage limit, according to a survey by the National Safety Council. The survey found 99 percent of doctors exceed
the three-day limit. Almost one-quarter of doctors prescribe opioids for a month.
While almost 85 percent of doctors screen for signs of prior opioid painkiller abuse, only one-third asks about a
family history of addiction, the survey found. When signs of abuse are uncovered, only 5 percent offer direct help
and only 38 percent refer these patients for treatment elsewhere. The survey found 74 percent of doctors said they
believe pain relief is best achieved through one of two opioids: morphine or oxycodone. The National Safety Council
said over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, are more effective in providing short-
term pain relief.
Earlier this month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidelines
that recommend primary care providers avoid prescribing opioid painkillers for
patients with chronic pain. The risks from opioids greatly outweigh the benefits for most people, the CDC says.
Primary care providers write nearly half of all opioid prescriptions, according to the CDC. The new guidelines are
designed for primary care doctors who treat adult patients for chronic pain in outpatient settings. They are not
meant for guiding treatment of patients in active cancer treatment, palliative care, or end-of-life care, the agency