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GeneralHealth CareLitigationRecord Retrieval

Medical Record Discoveries Related to Opioid Use

 What the Medical Record might not say about opioid use


According to a pain medicine expert, a reluctance of some medical physicians to use addiction labels on patients that misuse pain medication could be causing them to not accurately report the problem in the medical record.

Jane C. Ballantyne, MD, a professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, draws her conclusion after reviewing an article in PAIN® and noticed the level uncertainty that surrounds how addiction is defined, the discrepancy amongst addiction rates, and how it is reported in patient medical records.

She points to the example of how the article’s authors find that 10.3% of patients either abuse or have an opioid dependency, however, published estimates elsewhere on problem opioid use show a range between 1% and 50%. The article reports that there is also the problem with providers using non-formal diagnosis of abuse or dependency even when they have identified problem use. Ballantyne says that part of the issue may be a “fear of stigmatizing them, antagonizing them, or forcing them into less than ideal treatment.”

“This may be a simple case of it being difficult for both prescriber and patient to accept a diagnosis of addiction when it results from medical treatment, especially when that medical treatment was used in a good faith effort to improve a life,” Ballantyne wrote.

At MRC, our legal nurse consultants are skilled at providing transparency into the true and complete medical story. We are here to report all relevant findings that will help strengthen your case and support your legal strategy. Contact MRC today to see if we can help determine what your medical records say about opioid use.