BURLINGTON (AP) - The Vermont Medical Practice Board has issued new rules designed to prevent the abuse of prescription opiate-based painkillers.

The rules for physicians who prescribe opiates are the first update in nine years.

The rules come as the state is confronting an ongoing opiate and heroin epidemic.

The new policy encourages doctors to screen patients needing pain medication for any history of mental health disorders and alcohol or drug abuse. It also advises doctors to use a system that tracks prescriptions for controlled substances, to make sure patients aren't seeking opiate medications from multiple sources.

Medical Practice Board chairwoman Dr. Patricia King told the Burlington Free Press it's hoped the new rules will reflect a balance between the need to treat chronic pain and recognizing the addiction risks.


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