The prescription of opioids by physicians is at issue. Why are patients prescribed opioids? How often do they feel pain, how life-threatening is the cause, and on a scale of 1 to 10, how severe is the pain and how long is the pain likely to last? In each case that yields an overdose death, the physician whose patient died of an overdose should be asked the above questions.

Would an analgesic have been adequate if given in large dosage? Would a large dose have likely caused death?

Philip Thompson, M.D.

Portland