USF St. Petersburg campus Honors Program Theses (Undergraduate)

First Advisor

Noel Y. Takeuchi, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Deby Cassill, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Thomas W. Smith, Ph.D.


University of South Florida St. Petersburg

Document Type


Publication Date


Date Issued



There are a multitude of studies confirming that structured guidelines and continual education implemented in the emergency room result in improvements in pain management and patient satisfaction. The studies and reports published between 2004 – 2019 were analyzed regarding the different methods and tools emergency physicians should have at their disposal to combat the opioid crisis. The goal of this thesis was to highlight as well as examine the strategies and tools emergency room physicians can use when treating pain in efforts to effectively reduce opioid use disorder. The ability to correctly identify drug seeking behavior (DSB) was the first strategy addressed in the thesis. Physicians generally have accurate sensitivity (62.3%) in suspecting drug seeking behavior (Weiner et al, 2013). According to the study reviewed regarding Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, PDMPS prove to be extremely useful in determining patterns of DSB, doctor shopping, and prescription drug abuse; with the caveat being only when most up-to-date systems were available and required to be used. The effectiveness, shortcomings and future prospects of urine drug screens were analyzed. Studies on alternative modes to treat pain proved to have same powerful pain desensitizing effect as opioids without the added symptoms and risks, including future addiction. Lastly, an essential part of properly treating pain without placing pressure on physicians to prescribe opioids was found to be effective communication and transparency between physician and patient. With pain being one of the most common complaint from patients in the emergency room, physicians need to take responsibility and do their part to combat the opioid crisis and push back against the pressure to prescribe and by using the tools necessary including, but not limited to, the tools and strategies reviewed in this thesis. This will aid physicians in reducing rates of unnecessary opioid prescription and eliminating the adverse symptoms and drawbacks of opioids while maintaining high patient satisfaction.


A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Honors Program University of South Florida St. Petersburg Campus December 10, 2020 .