SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Missouri dentists can now lose their license for prescribing too many pain medications due to a bill recently signed into law.
Though dentists are only responsible for about 6 percent of opioid rescriptions, young people are ten times more likely to be addicted to pain meds when prescribed by dentists.
A local dentist, Dr. Teresa Morris, has personal experience with opioid addiction with her husband. “20 years ago, he would go into the doctor to get it because he wanted to get ‘the high’.”
Dr. Morris never prescribed the drug to her husband, but watched him get addicted. “Once my husband got really really sick and he was terminal, the bottle said take one every six hours or not more than four a day, he would take two at a time, and he would be this close to dying. And he never exceeded what he could have in a month. But he might go four or five days without anything, and then double and triple up on them, and then he’ll get in trouble.”
She says once her and her husband visited Colorado and he was unable to breathe because of the high altitude. “Just minutes or seconds before he quit breathing, the guys, there were 12 of them, they got him out of the car. But the time it took to get him out of the car, two guys to get him out of the car, get him on the floor, get him in a place where they could artificially breathe for him, his blood pressure was low enough and tissues didn’t get enough oxygen, he got home, but he passed six weeks later. So we are limited for acute pain, and a five-day prescription. So that would be 20 tablets.”
Dr. Morris is in full support of the law and says dentists will not give you more medication than needed. “Somebody who wants to come in and are just here for pain meds, I say well, the thing about the law right now is, if you’re having pain, my job is not to give you pain medication because you’re having pain.”
If dentists need to prescribe more than the limit, they need to document why in the patient’s medical record.