In March 2016, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) made headlines when it released it's 12-point Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. As the opioid epidemic and chronic pain pandemic have reached record levels, state governments and professional medical societies alike have released their own recommendations and regulations to inform opioid prescribing. Here's a snapshot to help you keep track of your state's chronic pain guidelines:
The Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Healthcare, Inc. (AAAHC) has released a new toolkit to combat opioid overdose through improved stewardship programs. The resource is designed to help providers review and assess the volume and length of opioid prescriptions and dosages to mitigate risk of patient overdose and death.
By now, much has been written about Tiger Woods and his recent arrest for driving under the influence in Florida. The professional golfer was found slumped over the steering wheel of his car with the engine still running and damage to the side of the vehicle. When officers performed a field sobriety test, his breathalyzer indicated that he had not ingested any alcohol and it is likely that he had a mixture of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and narcotic medications in his bloodstream—some reports indicate that he was taking Vioxx as well as Vicodin (in addition to other medications). In her recent report for The Atlantic, Olga Khazan does a great service using this incident to highlight the problem of drivers not under the influence of alcohol, but severely impaired by prescription medications.
After reviewing several articles regarding the controversy chronic pain patients are facing due to physicians changing policy in fear of the CDC Opioid Guidelines, I feel it necessary to address the seriousness of turning away legitimate chronic pain patients seeking medical care, because of the perceived stigma attached to opiates.
The Hudson Institute’s recent briefing paper, “A Strategy to Counter the Opioid Epidemic: Contain, Reduce, Extinguish” delivers a clear explanation of our nation’s opioid problem, and importantly, a comprehensive approach to address the issue.
First, Let's Talk About My Pain.
Pain can be explained as either chronic or acute. Acute pain is described as pain that has just occurred after an injury such as surgery or trauma to our body. Acute pain will improve over time as our bodies heal from this injury or surgery.
A recent study published in The Journal of Pain found that patients prescribed higher opioid doses experienced greater pain intensity, higher health care utilization, and poorer quality of life. Is this a breakthrough finding or an obvious correlation?
Saturday, April 29th is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, a part of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s initiative to provide a safe and easy way to dispose of unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
As both a practicing emergency medicine physician, and Chief Medical Officer at AffirmHealth, a local company dedicated to combatting opioid abuse, I spend a significant amount of time thinking about the right approach to fighting opioid misuse in Tennessee, my home state. David Plazas’s editorial on April 2nd, 2017 rightly draws attention to the opioid epidemic which he characterizes as “Tennessee’s No.1 public health crisis” and his point about the medical vs. criminal management of addiction is a good one. There’s no question that addiction is a multifactorial disease process and our worsening crisis is unlikely to be solved through a law and order approach alone. It’s going to require individualized solutions that tailor therapy based on each addict’s needs.
Let's face two truths about heathcare costs in our country: