Understanding and improving patient safety is a key issue in medicine. One of the potential threats to patient safety is the sharing of medication among patients, which is a form of self-medication. This study analyzed experiences and attitudes of pain management physicians (PMPs) about sharing prescription analgesics among patients.
This qualitative study was conducted by semi-structured interviews among PMPs employed in Croatian pain clinics. The study involved two researchers and 15 PMPs.
Among PMPs, 80% have seen patients who share their prescription analgesics with other patients for whom prescription is not intended. Most PMPs consider prescription analgesics sharing a risky and negative behavior. Some of them, however, found certain positive aspects associated to it, such as being a benevolent behavior, helping patients to get medications when they need them, and helping them cope with pain.
The majority of physicians specialized in pain management encountered patients sharing prescription analgesics. Most of them considered this as risky behavior with a number of potential consequences. It has been noted that this problem is neglected and that physicians should inquire about medication sharing. Direct-to-consumers advertising was perceived as a factor contributing to such behavior. Patient education and more involvement of physicians in identifying this behavior were cited as potential remedies for preventing sharing of prescription analgesics.