Physicians: The Modern Day Drug Dealers

26,000 physicians across the United States fuel the country’s opioid crisis

Zayn Patel
12 min readOct 19, 2021

Overprescribing by 50%

The US is projected to have 700,000 opioid deaths by 2025. Doctors are misprespcribing pain killers because of the subjectivity of current pain assessments.

Pain is the focal reason people enter the healthcare system. It’s also a private, subjective experience that’s difficult to communicate. Doctors have primarily assessed pain by asking patients to rate pain intensity on a numerical scale and describe how it feels in words.

Example: Patients walk into the doctors office and the first question they are asked is — “what is your pain level on a scale of 0–10. 0 being no pain at all and 10 being I need to go to the emergency room.”

But, these methods don’t work very well for most patients. The intention of pain scales is a rapid proxy to understand the intensity of pain. These scales don’t yield any objective meaning because they are influenced by several factors: patient threshold for pain, whether or not their response of a digit matters to care, what number will yield medication so they can recover. Additionally, the scale confuses patients. How are they supposed to take a complex internal experience that manifests in pain and scale it down to a single number?

Some doctors are stating that “Younger children just tend to choose the smiley face because they…



Zayn Patel

Working on space technology and policy, improving government with data science, and launching a cubesat mission.