Pain management and responsibility go hand-in-hand. Here are several benefits of drug testing patients who are struggling with chronic pain.
The benefits of drug testing for patients suffering from chronic pain are a clear solution to a growing problem.
We are facing a crisis in America. 100 million people are suffering from chronic pain. For some, this tragedy of human pain and suffering puts them at risk of developing an addiction to opioids during therapy.
Misuse of prescription drugs is a significant problem.
More than 2 million Americans abused prescription pain relievers in 2015. And of the more than 50,000 deaths attributed to overdose the same year, nearly half of them were caused by prescription drugs.
Managing pain responsibly requires the cooperation of the practitioner and the patient. Drug testing provides an effective way to monitor prescription drug use.
Read on to learn about the benefits of drug testing for helping those struggling with chronic pain.
The Stigma of Drug Testing
Some of your patients who are on pain medication may have an adverse reaction to being tested for drugs. They may feel submitting to a test suggests you suspect them of wrongdoing.
Others may live in such unbearable pain that their prescribed medication alone is not enough. They may use other substances like medical marijuana or prescription drugs that were not prescribed for them. They will be resistant to drug testing for fear of being dropped from treatment.
It’s helpful to educate your patients so they can understand the benefits of your drug testing policy and how they can benefit from participating.
Provide an Effective Assessment Tool
The Urine Drug Test (UDT) is a diagnostic tool that helps practitioners treat their patients. The results of the urine test are more conclusive than a blood test.
One reason UDTs are so reliable is that most drugs and their metabolites show up in the urine for up to 3 days. Drug testing allows for early detection of possible misuse of medication to prevent long-term drug abuse issues.
A UDT can confirm the patient is taking the prescribed drug, thereby eliminating the possibility of diversion. Diversion occurs when medication may be taken by someone else in the household or sold on the street.
The test can also find the illicit drugs in the system, allowing the opportunity for intervention to support patient wellness.
Two tests are administered to avoid false positives and false negatives. The first test is an immunoassay. If the results are negative, the second test is not required. If the first test is positive, the second test (GC-MS) is given for confirmation.
There are also other urine tests available that your staff can be trained to administer.
It’s important to analyze the results carefully to determine accuracy. Check with the lab for possible errors when results are positive.
When positive results are confirmed, you and your patient should have a discussion concerning the process of dealing with the issue.
Address Non-Compliance Issues
Urine Drug Testing (UDT) is used for monitoring and managing the use of pain medication. It’s a good idea to also require patients to sign a contract agreeing to comply with their medication protocol.
These practices help to control challenging behaviors. Here are some behaviors that may signal a problem with addiction:
- Lost prescriptions
- Requesting early refills frequently
- Increasing dosages
- Getting prescriptions from several providers
A positive drug test doesn’t mean the patient’s pain medication should be removed. Your patient has a very real condition of chronic pain for which they need medication. Now, that condition has been complicated with addiction.
As you work together to resolve the issue, there should be open communication between you and your patient to develop a bond of trust.
Improve Patient Health
Drug testing is a good idea, even for those patients you’ve been treating for years. That’s because drug testing is in the best interest the patient. It provides information that can help you advocate for your patient’s needs.
When a patient develops an addiction to medication, intervention helps to treat both the chronic pain and the addiction. The sooner treatment can be adjusted, the better the recovery process.
Explain testing results to your patient and answer any questions. Approach testing with a positive attitude. Support your patients’ efforts to manage any risk they face with pain management.
The benefits of drug testing provide support for both the patients who adhere to their medication protocol and those who do not. It’s an opportunity to educate your patient and to open lines of communication to get them back on track. It should never be used to penalize a patient.
Both you and your patient should agree on the use of UTDs. Drug testing is a tool for helping patients get well.
Protect the Practitioner and the Public
Your clinic should have a policy in place describing expectations of the patient-provider relationship. It should include at least the following things:
- The drug tests used
- Who is tested and why
- The process of testing
- An explanation of test analysis
- Actions steps based on test results
You should also have a consistent testing procedure for all patients to avoid the perception of targeting specific groups.
A drug testing policy will protect your practice. Keep good records of testing and actions taken to avoid any issues of non-compliance with the law.
Misuse of medication you prescribed could cause an investigation and affect your relationship with other patients.
Having a drug testing policy protects members of your community as well from any of your patients who may be misusing opioids. It shows your commitment to addressing the widespread drug abuse problem.
Benefits of Drug Testing
There are many benefits of drug testing for your patients suffering from chronic pain. Drug testing alerts you to potential problems with patient behavior. And it will provide an opportunity for a responsible response.
At Rapid Detect, we provide quality, low-cost testing supplies. We would like to support your efforts to provide your patients with a reliable and accurate drug testing process.
To learn more, contact us. We are ready to help you with your drug testing needs.