New recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for prescribing opioid medications for chronic pain can help primary care providers ensure patients receive the safest and most effective treatment.

The CDC reports that overprescribing of opioids is partly to blame for more than 40 deaths each day in the United States. The new guidelines instruct providers to work with patients to determine the best treatments to prevent future overprescription based on three principles to improve patient care:

  • Non-opioid therapy is preferred for chronic pain outside of active cancer, palliative, and end-of-life care.
  • The lowest effective dosage of opioid drugs should be prescribed to reduce risk of dependency and overdose.
  • Caution should be taken when prescribing opioids, including patient monitoring.

The CDC also created resources for providers to use when making treatment determinations, including fact sheets and a prescription checklist.

Contact Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.