As a veterinarian, you do all you can to help small animals and pets feel their best. It’s heartbreaking to see an animal in pain, so you do have prescription drugs that you will prescribe if you feel that the animal would benefit from them.
Due to the opioid crisis, it’s important for you to understand that you could face the loss of your license if those medications are prescribed inappropriately or if you face accusations of prescribing them inappropriately. While opioids are just a small number of the drugs you have to work with, being able to prescribe them can put your license at risk.
How can you protect yourself? Here is what you should do.
- Get to know your local regulations
The first thing to do is to look at your local regulations to see how to best prescribe these drugs for the animals who need them. For example, you may be asked to report the prescription and to prescribe only a limited amount. Don’t violate these regulations, or you could face penalties.
- Consider using alternatives when you can
There are many kinds of pain medications that you can use to help treat an animal’s pain. It’s often best to consider using any kind of medication other than an opioid unless you have no other option. The International Association of Veterinary Pain Management has information about the different drugs available on the market today. It may be worth prescribing medications that are weaker or different until you reach the point where an opioid is the last remaining option.
- Watch for signs of opioid abuse or mismanagement
If an animal that you prescribe opioids for doesn’t seem to get better or has repeated injuries requiring heavy pain medication, you should look at that as a red flag particularly if the owner is asking for prescription opioids. With your staff, watch out for missing medications or unusual changes in behavior.
The opioid crisis is problematic for anyone in any medical field. If you are accused of any wrongdoing related to opioid use or prescription, then it’s important for you to fight back and defend yourself and your veterinary license.