In a March 18, 2016 report, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released its guidelines on Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. In this article, the CDC cautions clinicians in testing for substances “for which results would not affect patient management.”
“Clinicians should not test for substances for which results would not affect patient management or for which implications for patient management are unclear. For example, experts noted that there might be uncertainty about the clinical implications of a positive urine drug test for tetrahyrdocannabinol (THC).”
In addition, they addressed the issue of terminating care based on the results of a positive test for unexpected results a common practice among pain management clinics.
“Clinicians should not dismiss patients from care based on a urine drug test result because this could constitute patient abandonment and could have adverse consequences for patient safety, potentially including the patient obtaining opioids from alternative sources and the clinician missing opportunities to facilitate treatment for substance use disorder.”
These are important issues facing medical marijuana patients across the country when confronted with signing pain management contracts when being prescribed opioid pain medications. There use of cannabis as an adjunct to these prescriptions medications can be effective in reducing increases in dosage and in many instances a overall reduction in prescription medications in general.
As more and more Americans begin using Cannabis obtained legally to treat conditions on their own, the health care providers will have to address these and other issues. Health care insurers faced with deciding to provide treatment and therefore cover costs for those patients found to be using cannabis will have a tough time.
More importantly so will patients as their quality of life and access to health care depend on the decisions made in this debate.