Recent media accounts showed opiate-related deaths exceeded that from gun-related homicides.In addition, the media noted that for the first time since 1993, there is a decline in the average life expectancy, in part due to opiate-related deaths among young users. Rightly so, ASA is deeply involved in activities to reduce addiction that resulted from over-prescription and use of opiates for pain control.

In the February 2001 issue of theASA NEWSLETTER, my letter to the editor expressed concern that lawsuits mayincrease with The Joint Commission mandate to include pain assessment score as the fifth vital sign.Each patient-physician encounter required a record of pain score, which if inadequately treated provides documentation that may be used in a lawsuit. One result is that medical practitioners treating pain overreacted and over-prescribed opiates, leading to addiction in many users....

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