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Drug-Seeking in the Emergency Room

Fuqua professor says 'perverse incentives' enable widespread prescription drug abuse

Treating pain is one of the trickiest issues an Emergency Room physician encounters.  Physicians rely on patients to self-report the level of pain, and most patients come to the ER needing real relief.

But if the patient is lying, there are few options available for the physician. And there's growing evidence that misuse of prescription drugs is a significant social problem.

Policymakers have looked at several solutions, but Fuqua School of Business Professor David McAdams says the real solution comes in changing hospital incentives. He says the hospital pressures doctors to keep the patients happy: In one survey one out of eight physicians said their employment was threatened by low patient satisfaction scores.

"Emergency physicians are under intense pressure to satisfy patients, and drug seekers know this," McAdams says.

In the above video, McAdams suggests how hospitals can work with physicians on novel solutions to the prescription drug abuse problem.

See more at the Game Changer Files.