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Local hospital, father speak out about over-prescribing opioid medication

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The Attorney General says nearly 80 percent of people suffering from a heroin addiction begin by abusing prescription drugs.

This is why he's now targeting drug companies in the fight against opioid abuse.

Following his announcement Tuesday CBS 21 wanted to know how local doctors prescribe and manage pain medication.

Holy Spirit Geisinger and a dad who lost his daughter after an overdose say it's important now more than ever for doctors to control and monitor pain medications.

"The drug just turned her into a monster - there's no better way to say it," said Terry Mishler who lost his daughter, Sara, two years ago following a long battle with a heroin addiction.

Terry Mishler told CBS 21, "We went downstairs to watch tv, my wife came up an hour later and we found her dead in the bathtub."

Mishler believes what may have sparked her addiction were injuries from gymnastics and cheerleading. He also believes the heroin epidemic was caused in part by situations just like his daughters.

"This all started from the pharmaceutical system just flooding the market with opioids," said Mishler.

At Holy Spirit Geisinger they say they're extremely careful about prescribing narcotics and agree healthcare providers played a role in the epidemic and now need to play a role in stopping it.

Dr. Carrie DeLone told CBS 21, "We know that prescription narcotics is the main avenue that people take to get to heroin."

She says because of that doctors there only prescribe narcotics if they have to and they prescribe the lowest dose for the shortest period of time. Not only that, they monitor their patients closer than they have before.

"We look at those patients, we make a judgment from the time we start them on the medication and then we have them come back regularly and we question them," said DeLone.

She says doctors also monitor the statewide database which shows who's been prescribed what, by who, and for how long. Not only that, in their emergency department doctors only prescribe narcotics for 7 days and offer no refills if the patient loses the medicine or runs out.

Mishler says he hopes all doctors take the same approach so other parents don't have to go through what he did.

"She was the kind of person that just loved ya for who you were. Just a breath of sunshine, she was my baby girl," said Mishler.

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