Bamboozled by Patients?

June 9, 2010

A recent essay by Michael W. Kahn, MD, explores whether psychiatrists are going too far in denying patients’ requests for drugs. When first year psychiatry residents were asked how they would react to a request from a patient for narcotic painkillers or antianxiety medications, the general consensus was that they would do no harm by playing it safe and would not provide the requested drug.

A recent essay by Michael W. Kahn, MD, explores whether psychiatrists are going too far in denying patients’ requests for drugs. When first year psychiatry residents were asked how they would react to a request from a patient for narcotic painkillers or antianxiety medications, the general consensus was that they would do no harm by playing it safe and would not provide the requested drug.

Dr Kahn examines whether this is the right approach. He argues that doing no harm may occasionally require being fooled by a patient. He cautions that “. . . the harm of missing a chance to help often greatly exceeds the harm of prescribing under false pretenses.”

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Risk Versus Benefit of BenzodiazepinesBaby Boomers and Substance Abuse