New Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) guidance advises clinicians on reducing or ending long-term opioid prescriptions for patients with chronic pain.
HHS recognizes the benefits of opioid-based pain management for patients with chronic pain but warns of the potential patient harm if the opioid therapy is not reduced or ended in a deliberate way. The agency also notes that nonopioid treatments should be part of a patient’s pain management plan as long as clinicians consider a patient’s diagnosis, overall needs, and circumstances.
The guidance, which compiles existing peer-reviewed guidelines and practices, seeks to reduce the risk of substance use disorder while providing effective pain management for chronic pain patients. Topics covered include:
- risk factors associated with a rapid reduction in opioid painkillers;
- patient factors that may signal a need to reduce or end opioid painkiller prescribing;
- methods to reduce opioid painkiller prescribing for a patient;
- the importance of shared decisionmaking with patients;
- how to identify and mitigate opioid withdrawal symptoms; and
- how to ensure patients receive appropriate, concurrent behavioral health support.
America’s Essential Hospitals has established a resource page for combating the opioid epidemic and a tracker highlighting funding opportunities available to essential hospitals under the SUPPORT Act. Members also can find more information about state-level developments on our State Action opioid resource page.
Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.