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USPSTF Urges Physicians To Screen Patients For Drug Abuse

Posted in Affordable Care Act

The New York Times (8/13, Hoffman) reports the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued draft recommendations Tuesday that all adult patients be screened “for illicit drug use, including improper use of prescription medications.” The USPSTF did not extend this recommendation to teens, citing lack of research on adolescent screening benefits. Though USPSTF “guidelines are not binding…a provision in the Affordable Care Act says that services recommended by the task force must be covered by insurance with minimal or no co-payment.” The Wall Street Journal (8/13, Burton, Subscription Publication) reports the draft recommendation encourages physicians to discuss illicit drug and opioid use and to include questions about such use in patient questionnaires.

The Los Angeles Times (8/13, Healy) reports the guideline “recommends that all U.S. adults be screened for illicit drug use as long as their doctors can do so accurately and, when abuse is detected, offer their patients effective treatment or refer them to someone who can.” Moreover, “an acknowledgment of drug use should prompt a physician to warn a patient about the dangers he or she is courting, offer medication-assisted therapy for addiction if appropriate, and refer the patient to counseling and further treatment.”

STAT (8/13, Flaherty) reports the independent panel “has determined, for the first time, that there is enough evidence to state with ‘moderate certainty’ that screening adults for illicit substance use is overall beneficial.” The draft recommendations will be open for public comment until September 9.

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