5 Steps Physicians Can Take to Fight Opioid Abuse Crisis

Last Updated: May 16, 2016



5 steps physicians can voluntarily take to lead the fight against opioid abuse as part of PAMED's Opioids for Pain program:

1. Know the guidelines.

Through a collaborative effort between the Pennsylvania Medical Society, Pennsylvania Department of Health (PaDOH), and Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (PaDDAP), tools you can use are available, including continuing medical education on opioid prescribing guidelines.  

2. Use PA PDMP Database.

Pennsylvania physicians who are licensed, registered, or otherwise lawfully authorized to prescribe controlled substances are required to register in the state's new controlled substances monitoring program (PDMP). Physicians should register for this database, learn about it in PAMED's two online CME courses, and then regularly use this system when considering whether to prescribe a controlled substance.

3. Refer to treatment.

As you complete educational opportunities being provided through PAMED, PaDOH, and PaDDAP, you'll learn to identify red flags that a patient in your office may need help with substance use disorder. Getting those patients the right help is the next step physicians should take.

4. Discuss options.

Patients in pain deserve care and compassion, not judgment. As physicians, we are often under pressure to "satisfy a patient's pain." Sometimes this requires prescribing an opioid. But caring also means sometimes saying no and recommending an alternative course of treatment—no matter how difficult that may be.

5. Keep pills safe.

Let your patients know that when they no longer need a prescribed medication, it is OK to get rid of it. They should plan to clean their medicine cabinets on a regular basis. Safe drop off locations are located throughout the state and can be found through PaDDAP.

PAMED CME Courses on Opioids

Addressing Pennsylvania's Opioid Crisis: What Health Care Teams Need to Know: This program is divided into five sessions and each session consists of four, 15-minute modules. The program covers a variety of tools and resources for prescribers and dispensers to better address opioid addiction with their patients. Session

  1. Opioid Prescribing Guidelines for Chronic, Non-Cancer Pain Session
  2. Naloxone
  3. Referral to Treatment
  4. PA Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP): Get an introduction to the state's PDMP
  5. PA's PDMP): Be Smart. Be Safe. Be Sure: Offers case studies to help physicians use the PDMP to help with clinical decision making

Using Opioids to Treat Chronic Pain (earn up to 6 CME credits)

  1. Interdisciplinary Pain Care: Where Do Opioids Fit In?
  2. Opioid Therapy: Does it Work and at What Cost?
  3. Patient Monitoring During Care
  4. Treatment Failure: What to do when things don't go well
  5. Putting it all Together: Managing Pain in High Risk Patients
  6. Alternatives to Opioid Therapy

Educate your patients and your colleagues with these printable materials:

Click on image to download printable poster to hang in your waiting room


Click on image to download printable tear-off sheet to give to patients




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