Happening Now: Are doctors harming patients by cutting back on prescription painkillers?

To combat the country’s harrowing opioid addiction epidemic, many doctors are moving away from prescribing powerful painkillers to patients, but a nationwide survey finds that 34 percent of physicians believe this tactic may actually be hurting people with chronic pain issues.

Dr. Joseph Audette, pain management chief at Atrius health and pain management specialist, told Fox News’ Jon Scott that the message to doctors is not to stop writing prescriptions for pain management medications, but to be more cognizant of a patient’s possible addiction issue.

“That sometimes is harder than it may seem to sort out, but as physicians, we don’t want to be contributing to a national health crisis that we’re seeing all around us,” Audette said on Fox News’ Happening Now.

Audette, who has previously said regulations will not be the only answer to America’s addiction problems, called for a multi-faceted approach to addressing the deadly epidemic.

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“One aspect of that is to try not to have an excess amount of prescription drugs in the general population that are not being used for medical purposes,” Audette said.

With more than one-third of physicians who participated in the survey saying the prescription pullback is prolonging patients’ misery, Dr. Tiffany Sizemore, a quadruple board certified cardiologist, said it’s more complicated than that.

“In my practice, I don’t treat a lot of what we call chronic, non-malignant pain,” Sizemore said. “I send those patients to a pain management specialist— that is who should be managing their pain.”

Sizemore added that unless a patient that has a malignant cancer, there are very few cases that should require long-term painkillers.

“The problem is a lot of doctors don’t want to take the time to counsel these patients and explain to them the problems that they are having,” she said.