Medication-assisted treatment has been effective in facilitating many patients’ recovery from opioid addiction for over 30 years. Research shows that opioid addiction is a medical disorder that can be treated safely and effectively with medications.
However, recent reports of adverse incidents and deaths associated with methadone have raised concern among state and national legislators about the risks involved. These concerns and adverse incidents have led to an increased number of lawsuits as well as legislation that seeks to legislate clinical practice, patient safety, and community values.
Patients driving under the influence of multiple substances; unsafe diversion of take-home medication; unsafe induction and reduction of medication; and dosing practices without consideration of clinically assessed severity of dependence and metabolism rates can expose clinics to liability and endanger patient and public health. Physicians, psychiatrists, clinical staff, nurses, and opiate treatment program staff need to understand how to minimize risks to patients and others.