In October 2019, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced a new requirement for prescribers renewing their Controlled Substances Registration in 2020: the completion of 3 hours of continuing education on safe opioid prescribing practices. The requirement applies to individuals that are prescribers under the Controlled Substances Act, which includes such licenses for dentists, optometrists, physicians, and veterinarians.
The change does not come as much of a surprise given the continuing spotlight on opioid addictions and overdoses turning into a nationwide epidemic. While most lawsuits have been filed against opioid manufacturers relating to their misleading marketing of these drugs, there is no doubt that prescribers of opioids, most specifically physician prescribers, have been viewed as playing a crucial role in this problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2017 more than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses and of those deaths, nearly 68% involved a prescription or illicit opioid.
In a study conducted by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examining about 350,000 prescriptions written for patients operated on by nearly 20,000 surgeons from 2011 to 2016 – the latest year for which data was available – researchers found that many doctors wrote prescriptions for doses of opioid tablets after surgeries, including operations that resulted in relatively little pain for patients. The highest-prescribing 5% of surgeons performing these less painful procedures prescribed 40 to 70 pills on average.
The problem goes far beyond overprescribing to patients for less painful procedures. Multiple stories have broken over the years relating to physicians writing prescriptions for opioids without conducting appropriate physical examinations or performing medical tests. Such practices may lead to license revocations by the IDFPR and possibly federal charges for violation of the Controlled Substances Act.
While such abuses of prescribing power are unacceptable, most doctors are legitimately trying to help with patient pain and ensure patients receive the utmost care. Even if operating in good faith, a prescriber still runs the risk of causing problems with the IDFPR. If a problem occurs, Williams & Nickl can help you through that process. Our firm focuses on professional license defense to ensure the Medical Board does not trample your rights and you have a chance to move on from your past issue.