The opioid prescribing dilemma

  • Opioid prescribing often avoided by GP registrars
  • Necessary long-term commitment to opioid patients a deterrent
  • Greater mentoring and support needed for GP registrars to become involved in this field

IT'S 5:25 pm and the clinic is about to close when one last patient shuffles in. She takes a seat in front of the GP registrar, shows a scrappy hand-written note from a pain specialist and asks for a repeat prescription for buprenorphine, for the chronic pain in her back. 

Her story is well rehearsed but alarm bells ring for the young doctor. With his supervisor busy and the other GPs gone home, he errs on the side of caution and declines the patient’s request. 

The situation may turn ugly, but calming an angry patient seems nothing compared to the consequences of misprescribing an opioid. The patient may be hiding a drug habit or, worse, planning to sell the drug to someone who does.