If you live in Stillwater, Oklahoma and you lose your prescription drugs, the police will be happy to help you. You just have to take a lie detector test first.
Police in Stillwater have begun keeping a database of any citizen reporting lost prescription drugs. Turns out that local doctors are refusing to replace lost prescriptions without a police report detailing the theft of the original prescription. And some citizens have apparently filed false police reports in order to secure additional prescriptions. Now, if you've already filed one report, police will require a polygraph test before any subsequent police report can be made.
While I'm honestly ambivalent, this policy highlights one of the key factors we often gloss over in the public discussion of prescription drug misuse and abuse: community risk. Often, our dialog, debate, and discourse are focused on individual patient risk and the clinical safety, or lack thereof, of long term opioid use for chronic non-cancer pain. Policies such as Stillwater's place appropriate emphasis on the overall risk to the community of over-prescribing opioids.
The two most common inconsistencies we see from drug test results on our files are a) too much of a particular medication or b) a medication that's supposed to show up that doesn't. Whenever we see "a", we worry about the clinical risk to the patient. Whenever we see "b", we worry about the risk to that patient's community, including their immediate family. Let's face it, those drugs are likely going somewhere. Even if the injured worker isn't engaged in illegal activity (most often, they're not), those medications not consumed by the injured worker can end up in the hands of friends, neighbors, children, or spouses. This puts our communities at risk.
I suspect Stillwater won't be the last place we see this policy enacted.
So... should police require polygraph tests to file a police report for prescription drugs?
Or have they gone a step too far?
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