March 16, 2016 | | Comments 0
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How many will adopt the new CDC opioid guidelines?

After several months of debate, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have finally published its Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain on March 15. The agency’s recommendations are aimed towards primary care physicians, since family physicians alone account for 15.3 million opioid prescriptions annually. Currently, 44 Americans overdose and die each day after abusing prescription painkillers and the CDC hopes its recommendations can noticeably reduce the use of opioids in pain care.

However, the Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain are voluntary and some question how many in the healthcare sector will adopt them.  Several healthcare professionals and patient groups protested the guidelines after their first draft was unveiled for comment, claiming they were too restrictive on pain care. The outcry was enough that the CDC had to organize an extra review process for the guidelines back in January.

Now it’s up to healthcare facilities, including those who protested the guidelines, to decide if they will follow the CDC’s recommendations and to what extent.  The guidelines consist of 12 recommendations total, including:

  1. Using non-pharmacologic and non-opioid therapy for chronic pain whenever possible.
  2. Establishing treatment goals before starting long-term opioid therapy. Physicians should only continue to prescribe opioids if there is “clinically meaningful improvement” that outweighs safety risks.
  3. Discussing the risks and benefits of opioids with patients before prescribing them.
  4. Using short-acting opioids instead of extended-release, long-acting drugs to treat chronic pain.
  5. Prescribing opioids in their lowest effective dosage.
  6. Using short-term opioid treatments instead of long-term treatments for acute pain care. Usually three days’ worth of opioids will be enough, though up to seven days is sometimes permissible.
  7. Patients should be evaluated within one to four weeks of beginning opioid therapy for chronic pain and be reevaluated at once every three months afterwards to assess the pros and cons of continued treatment.

Click here to read The Joint Commission’s “Facts about Pain Management” page and view its Sentinel Event Alert 49, dealing with safe use of opioids in hospitals.

 

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Filed Under: CDCJoint Commission ResourcesNational News

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About the Author: Brian Ward is an Associate Editor at HCPro working on accreditation, patient safety, and quality news.

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