Officials with the National Safety Council are calling on physicians to engage in an open and “honest dialogue” with their patients about the risks and adverse events associated with commonly-prescribed painkillers.
The Council recently released a white paper that details the psychological and physical side effects of pain medications, noting risks like: “rapidly developing addiction, withdrawal, constipation, permanent changes to brain chemistry, nausea, respiratory depression, increased sensitivity to pain, driving impairment and decreased sex drive.”
According to the white paper, opioid painkillers account for about $55.6 billion in societal costs each year, including patient care and worker’s compensation.
A news release about the white paper notes that clinicians often prescribe opioid painkillers to elderly adults because they are widely believed to be easier on stomachs than over-the-counter pain relievers, however, the release notes, data show that elderly adults taking opioid painkillers have an equal risk of gastrointestinal bleeding as those taking over-the-counter medications.
Officials with the Council note that an honest dialogue with patients is warranted, because the number of overdoses associated with prescription medication is steadily on the rise.
A full copy of the white paper can be downloaded at safety.nsc.org/sideeffects.