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Dentist license at risk when prescribing opioids

Older teens have more rights to make their own decisions when it comes to dental care. However, when it comes to prescribing opioids, the consent of an authorized adult is still often necessary. A dentist who prescribes opioids to a minor without consent could face disciplinary action from the licensing board.

Each state has strict regulations for when minors can receive an opioid prescription, when they cannot and when a situation may be an exception.

Consent requirements

In most cases parents, legal guardians, or other adults with legal authority such as a power of attorney are authorized to provide written consent in these situations. Legally emancipated minors may generally consent on their own behalf only if they are serving in the military, married, employed and self-sufficient, or independent of a parent or guardian’s care due to some other acceptable circumstance.

If the minor requires another course of treatment, the dentist may need to have a new signed consent form before prescribing opioids again.

Information about medication

A dentist must make sure that prescribing an opioid will not create a high risk of addiction. They must ascertain that the minor is not already taking medication for a substance use disorder treatment. The minor and the parent or other adult should receive information about the risk of addiction from opioids and from other substances while taking opioids, as well as other warnings required by state and federal laws.

Note of caution

The laws and regulations surrounding the use of opioid medications are constantly evolving. The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners requires dentists who are permitted by the Drug Enforcement Agency to prescribe controlled substances to attend an educational course on the abuse and misuse of opioids in an effort to help better ensure dentists in the state are up to date with these requirements.

A violation of this law can put a dentist’s license at risk. The law indicates a need for documentation regarding every decision made about prescribing opioids. When a dentist can provide justification for the process leading up to the decision, it may help a case before the state licensing board.