An editorial in Tuesday's USA Today warns that the Drug Enforcement Administration's "heavy-handed approach of targeting doctors who prescribe 'too many' narcotic painkillers…spells more misery for physicians and patients." In response, DEA Administrator Karen Tandy insists that "doctors acting in good faith and in accordance with established medical norms should remain confident in their ability to prescribe appropriate pain medications." Notice that "good faith" is not enough to keep the DEA at bay (as pain doctor William Hurwitz's prosecution for drug trafficking shows). You also have to prescribe "in accordance with established medical norms" (as determined by the DEA) and prescribe only those medications and dosages that are "appropriate" (according to the DEA). Aren't doctors silly to worry?
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