While pain medicine physicians, such as those at Weill Cornell Medical college, increasingly try to treat chronic pain with a multi-disciplinary approach, the use of medications remains an important part of most treatment regimes. Prescribing drugs offers benefits, but also potential difficulties. Patients may deviate from their prescriptions, taking either too much or not enough of a particular medicine. These alterations to dosage can reduce the effectiveness of treatment and even endanger patient health.
Pain medicine physicians are vitally interested in ensuring that their patients are using the proper dosages of prescribed medications. Traditionally monitored via urine and/or blood tests, drug levels can be ascertained using oral fluid tests. Research conducted by a team including Weill Cornell’s Dr. Neel Mehta has helped advance the understanding and effectiveness of this form of testing.
Dr. Neel Mehta
Research presented by Neel Mehta, MD, Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and Director of Pain Medicine, at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Pain Society detailed the utility of oral fluid testing, which is more precise than urine testing and easier to conduct than blood testing. Oral fluid testing combines “the accuracy of blood [testing] with the convenience of a sample that’s easier to provide than urine,” Dr. Mehta told Pain Medicine News in a recent interview.
Dr. Mehta and his co-investigators hope that oral fluid testing can increasingly provide a mechanism to prevent sample tampering, verify patient prescription usage, and ensure better quality of care for pain medicine patients.