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More and more people are relying on narcotics to help fight pain, but identifying the pain has been a tough issue for many doctors. According to, hospitals like Blessing Hospital in Illinois are trying to educate doctors on how to separate patients who need treatment from those who just need a fix. Since the misuse of prescription opiates has become the leading cause of death across the United States, the FDA has asked drug makers to inform doctors about the importance of prescribing painkillers to the right patients. Now, hospitals are following suit.

According to, Blessing Hospital recently instituted a program that prevents doctors from prescribing painkillers so easily, particularly in the emergency room. Dr. Richard Saalborn, medical director of Blessing Hospital’s emergency center, believes the program will enable doctors to differentiate patients from drug addicts.

“It's the person who's been in here ten times for multiple reasons of pain, ankle sprains, dental pain, migraine headaches that comes in wanting their narcotics injection, requesting them by name. These are people who don't need to be here for that type of problem,” Saalborn said. “One of the concerns I have as an emergency physician is that people are dying more from narcotic prescription overdoses than they are from motor vehicle accidents.”

According to the FDA, misuse of prescription painkillers caused nearly 425,000 people to visit the ER in 2009 and accounted for over 15,000 deaths.

Emergency rooms around the country are seeing an increase in patients being admitted for pain, according to Some doctors have reportedly seen patients register themselves into the ER in order to receive painkillers and then move on to another physician when they’re denied the drugs. Illinois, however, enacted a statewide system that allows any ER staff throughout the state to look up medical records of patients online in order to see how many times they’ve registered.

Maybe the U.S. government should consider a nationwide system.

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