Group urges more integration between dentists, doctors to fight opioid crisis
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Dr. L. Jeffrey Lowenstein has missed the point of my remarks at Governor Baker’s Feb. 11 news conference. In his Feb. 22 letter (“Dentists isolated? No. Integrated? Yes.”), Lowenstein cites the integration within dentistry; however, the Governor’s Dental Education Working Group on Prescription Drug Misuse advocates interprofessional collaboration. The group points out that nationwide 78.4 percent of dentists work in solo practices, in contrast with our medical colleagues who have come together in larger group practices over the past decade.
In the context of the prescription opioid crisis, the working group urged more integration between dentistry and the medical field. This would help to avoid situations where dentists inadvertently prescribe opioids to patients who are already getting these medications from multiple sources ("doctor shopping") or where dentists prescribe opioids to patients with a history of substance misuse. This type of information is available to prescribing dentists in the Massachusetts Prescription Monitoring Program and should trigger a call to the patient's primary care team. This interprofessional communication could help reduce the cycle of opioid misuse.
These recommendations were developed with, and endorsed by, the Massachusetts Dental Society in collaboration with the three Massachusetts dental schools.
The governor's working group looks forward to collaborating with the broader dental community in the Commonwealth to play our part in controlling this prescription opioid epidemic.
The writer is cochairman of the Governor's Dental Education Working Group on Prescription Drug Misuse.