Do Mandatory Screenings Go Far Enough?

by FASPE Fellows Alexa Kanbergs and Joseph Scarpa, Jr.

In the face of the opioid crisis affecting the country, the United States Preventive Services Task Force, a national panel of health experts, put out a statement recommending that physicians screen all adult patients for illicit drug use.  These new guidelines are based on emerging evidence that screening can lead to successful intervention. However, they fall short of recommending screening for adolescents due to lack of clear evidence of the benefit of screening, leaving many members of the pediatric community frustrated.

In instances where the evidence is unclear, but the benefits of a practice can be life-saving, should authorities and providers break from the evidence and proceed with mandatory screening for adolescents? Additionally, these recommendations mean that health care providers must be aware of the laws in their state and how to proceed with a positive screening, as well as have knowledge of existing services to which they can refer patients in order to provide screenings that benefit patient health.

Read more from the New York Times.

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