American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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10 questions to identify drug-seeking patients

Copyright © 2002 by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.

If you think a patient may be inappropriately asking you for drugs, consider the following questions:

  • How often does this patient present?
  • Has the patient told you that he has moved, but doesn't want you to talk to his previous doctor?
  • Is the patient paying with cash?
  • Does the person have a last known address?
  • Have you had trouble contacting the patient between visits?
  • Are your prescription pads disappearing?
  • Does the patient say that only a particular drug will work, or that no other drug he has tried has worked?
  • Does the patient refuse to go to one primary care physician?
  • Does the patient frequently report losing medications?
  • Does the patient demand drugs with high street value?
  • Does the patient have prescriptions from multiple doctors or have prescriptions filled at multiple pharmacies?
  • Is the patient cooperating with the full treatment plan—physical therapy, alternative medicines, etc.?

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