Prescription narcotics : the misuse, overuse, and abuse.

Date of Award


Document Type



Caspersen School of Graduate Studies

Degree Name

Master of Medical Humanities


In this paper, I look to address the increasing problem of the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs. I suggest that the rising abuse of narcotic medications is a tri-fold issue: 1.) an increase in the use of patient satisfaction surveys, 2.) inadequate or insufficient technologies accessible to physicians to help regulate the problem coupled with a lack of time to properly use said technologies, and 3. the business of pharma and the demands for profit. Is this phenomena caused by the big business, pharmaceutical companies, or a lackadaisical attitude toward the prescribing of said drugs? I suggest that neither is entirely to blame nor it is solely due to a lackadaisical attitude, but instead to the demand put on physicians to give the patient what they want and a lack of the proper and adequate technologies to differentiate abusers and users. This problem coupled with the motivation and intentions of pharmaceuticals to make a profit leads to abuse, overuse, and prescription drug habits. Through my research I have found an alarming connection between patient satisfaction surveys and the abuse of narcotic medications. Patient satisfaction surveys are the latest tool to aid in providing "better" health care to patients through questions and answers; however, while they have their benefits, they are leading physicians to write prescriptions for narcotics simply to appease patients. For the physicians, I argue that in some instances, it is not solely due to a lackadaisical attitude on the physician's part, but instead to the demand on them to give the patient what they want in order to satisfy their patient satisfaction surveys. It is easier to write for these medications to appease patients, then dealing with a negative review and its repercussions. Physicians do not want to have to answer to bad patient satisfaction reviews, so they give into patient demands. The emergency room and care centers are becoming supermarkets for drug seekers. While I do believe that patient satisfactions surveys are beneficial, I believe they are turning the practice of medicine into a customer service oriented business controlled by supply and demand.