by Karl Voigt
You may have seen in the news, or perhaps even here, that the Center for Disease Control has published new Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. This is seemingly in response to not just the addictive nature of opioids, but also the quadrupling of deaths from prescription opioid overdose over the past 15 years. Since so many of our clients have been offered or prescribed opioid medications to manage their pain, it is worth a review.
The Guidelines are targeted to primary care physicians and not so much to pain management doctors. Most of these Guidelines focus on the criteria for initiating opioids and, frankly, they suggest avoiding it.
Interestingly, however, primary care physicians write nearly 10 times more opioid prescriptions per year than pain management doctors combined. Based on my own experience, I wonder if this is because pain management physicians often write the initial opioid prescriptions, then later pass along care to the patient’s primary care doctor.
The new Guidelines can be found here: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/rr/rr6501e1.htm.
The CDC also published a checklist for primary care doctors to use in initiating opioid prescriptions for their patients. It can be found at https://stacks.cdc.gov/view/cdc/38025.