I'm on board with you and completely agree prescription pain medications are a huge health threat, in addition to many other prescription medications. When I was working, I got increasingly tired of being a part of a health care system seemingly run by pharmaceutical companies and physicians who would rather treat symptoms rather than illness.
To those who have already responded, I had no idea about any of those non-pharmacological pain techniques mentioned. You nurses have done your homework and that is commended considering little is touched on during school or in work environments. I've never seen a set of protocols to be followed to help patients alleviate their pain naturally before the administration of prn pain medications. Even if there were, most nurses do not have time to sit with a patient long enough to guide them through their pain relief naturally.
I have only heard of one physician brought to justice due to reckless prescribing of pain medications. I'm sure there are more, but I haven't done any research. It was the pharmacies that raised the flags on this particular physician. Some details of the case can be found here. I think there should be more investigations on physician prescriptions and if enough of them are busted, perhaps it will cause some others to re-think their practices. But, it's all about the mighty dollar $$
This is a sticky subject, but medical marijuana has been shown to be very effective for chronic pain and to augment the effects of opiates, yet many pain clinic doctors regularly speak out against its medical legalization. Note, "medical legalization", not even recreational. Talk about a conflict of interest. If there was a way for pharmaceutical companies to be able to monopolize on medical marijuana products, it would probably be legal in a heartbeat and rescheduled from a schedule I substance. Again, follow the $$$.
Lastly, it was also mentioned about nurses scope of practice being limited by physician orders. This is another issue that would have to be dealt with. More education of nurses in the field of natural remedies and even certifications might start to bring about change to the scope of practice.
There are a lot of roadblocks to real reform.