From state to state the guidelines for prescribing pain medication varies drastically, so how does Wyoming stack up to the rest of the country?
Usually pain relief drugs are only prescribed if the patient needs something stronger than over the counter acetaminophen, but when used improperly they are illegal drugs and for that reason all medical professionals need to use their judgment.
As it turns out there are technically no limitations or criteria regarding when or why a patient can receive a script for pain meds.
Dr. David Wheeler said, "Any physician or physician extender in the state of Wyoming can prescribe opiate medications or narcotic medication. So there aren't any explicit rules about it."
Because the state has no rules, the responsibility lies in the hands of doctors and hospitals, and the requirements they set for dosing a patient.
Dr. Ron Iverson said, "We generally need acute pain, not chronic pain. And generally needs to be some sort of a painful condition like a fracture or a kidney stone."
There are many other conditions for which opiates can be taken and it's important for patients to be open about their discomfort.
Iverson said, "We don't want to discourage patients because they need something for pain."
However these medicines are only productive if they are used properly and responsibly.
Of Course the abuse of opiate drugs is always a concern, but at Wyoming Medical Center, they've got at least one way to prevent it.
Iverson said, "We don't prescribe any refills. We don't prescribe any long acting narcotics. We limit the quantity generally to 20 or so pills."
Both iverson and wheeler say that's because narcotics are a last resort. They say practices like yoga, meditation, and exercise can usually help manage pain.
Wheeler said, "Often times we're able to eliminate medications all together, if we teach people what they've been doing wrong all these years that's causing that pain."
Iverson says Wyoming doctors actually write fewer narcotic prescriptions than many state's doctors. He adds because of the protocol at Wyoming Medical he is not worried about people going to the ER just to get a fix
If you were taking opiate pain killers for a condition which has since gone away, doctors recommend you don't keep them in the house or give them to anyone else. Rather properly dispose of them using a drug take back program. Contact your local police for sites.