PediatricsPediatrics is also a concern for opioid crisis

Pediatrics is now also effected by the opioid crisis. Even medical professionals in the field of pediatrics need to worry about the opioid epidemic. Some people who are prescribed opioids by licensed doctors as a response to acute or chronic pain still end up becoming addicted to them. Between 1999 and 2014, 165,000 people in the United States have died from opioid pain medication.

The opioid epidemic is different from other drug problems this country has seen. Most of us were told “just say no” when we were children. That’s not so easy when the person offering you drugs is your doctor writing out a prescription, and the drugs are real medicines — especially when those medicines are treatment for real pain.

How one state handles the epidemic

Parents who are already watching their children cope with illness or injury should not have to second-guess their doctors on the drugs being given to their children for pain management, but it may be a good idea to have at least some information on the subject. In Pennsylvania, which ranks fourth in the nation for drug overdose deaths in adolescents and young adults, the state government recently introduced new guidelines for prescribing opioids, including guidelines for the pediatrics profession to use with regards to children and adolescents.

The guidelines state that if there is a non-opioid analgesic that can be used to manage a child’s pain, opioids should not be used, and that in all cases short-acting opioids are preferable to longer-acting ones. Opioids should always be prescribed separately from acetaminophen, ibuprofen or any benzodiazepine, and should be given in the smallest effective dose. In cases of moderate to severe pain, the guidelines recommend morphine or oxycodone. Consistent with FDA guidelines and the American Academy of Pediatrics, no child under twelve should take codeine or tramadol.

Most of all, the guidelines recommend counseling. Parents should learn how to store medications out of the reach of children and dispose of them as soon as they aren’t needed. Pediatrics experts should ask parents about family histories not only of substance abuse, but also of depression, anxiety, ADHD or other major psychiatric disorders.

North Carolina relies on the guidelines created by the CDC, which can be viewed at https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/rr/rr6501e1.htm and https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/prescribing/resources.html if you are interested.

A pediatrics clinic in Gastonia, NC

Gastonia Pediatric Associates is a pediatrics clinic in a convenient location within the Charlotte area. It is one of the first medical practices for children in this area, and is owned and directed by its own physicians. It offers medical advice for parents 24 hours a day, and has provided personalized service to three generations of families. Its staff includes three physicians and three nursing staff. If you need a pediatrics clinic, contact Gastonia Pediatrics today.