Frequently Asked Questions

May I warn another physician about a patient's drug-seeking behavior?

Answer

You are allowed to alert another physician within your practice with whom you may share patients or who provides coverage during your off time. However, warning physicians outside of your practice would violate the patient’s confidentiality. We suggest you meet with the patient to discuss your concerns regarding what you perceive to be a chemical dependency. During this meeting you might suggest professional help and outline conditions for continuing your professional care. Should the patient refuse a meeting or not accept the conditions proposed, you may want to consider terminating the physician-patient relationship. A good way to prevent cases from reaching this stage is to develop a policy statement that explains the kind and number of pills that will be dispensed at any one time, how a request for “emergency” narcotics will be dealt with, and how renewing a prescription for narcotics will be handled. This information should be provided to new patients and discussed with each new patient on his/her initial visit. Clearly explaining the practice’s policies and procedures before prescribing narcotics can help avoid misunderstanding and drug-seeking behavior from patients.

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