In fact, data from 1.8 million seniors covered by Medicare’s prescription benefit (Part D), who filled at least one prescription for an opiate in 2010, was analyzed by researchers as part of a new study. The data suggests that 30 percent of those patients were prescribed narcotic painkillers by more than one doctor, according to HealthDay.
The act of going to multiple doctors to receive narcotic prescriptions is known as doctor shopping.An assistant professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and study author Dr. Anupam Jena, along with his colleagues, found that seniors who see more than one doctor to acquire prescription opioids like oxycodone can be dangerous. Such behavior heightened the risk of being hospitalized for breathing problems associated with the drugs, as well as drowsiness leading to falls causing injury.
Study co-author Pinar Karaca-Mandic, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, said that the more prescribers a patient had, the higher the risk of hospitalization. “Patients with four or more prescribers were twice as likely to be hospitalized for narcotics-related complications than patients receiving the same number of prescriptions from a single caregiver.”
Doctor shopping is a problem that can lead to severe medical problems and even death. Sadly, the issue could have been resolved in a simple manner long ago, but it hasn’t been; all that's needed is a federal mandate for a national drug database that all doctors could access, thereby determining if a patient is already taking a drug prescribed by another doctor, even if it’s prescribed in a different state. Many doctor shoppers will cross state lines to exploit this deadly lack of oversight.