posted by Alicia Caramenico
on April 11, 2017
Opioid abuse and addiction leads to nearly 20,000 deaths a year, making this public health crisis more deadly than gun violence. The root of opioid addiction can often be traced back to surgical patients receiving prescriptions for large numbers of pain pills, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. So orthopedic surgeons are changing how they manage pain and how they talk about pain to help patients take as few opioids as possible.
They’re also educating patients prior to surgery about the benefits, risks of addiction, and side effects that come with opioid painkillers, according to another Philadelphia Inquirer article. A pilot study found patients who received such pre-surgery education used an average of 1.4 pills during their recovery and those who did not receive education used 4.2 pills.
Despite the risks, the latest NPR-Truven Health Analytics poll found that 57 percent of people surveyed said they had been prescribed a narcotic painkiller at some point and that only 29 percent said they questioned or refused their doctor’s prescription for opioids. This underscores the need for patient and providers to discuss the risks and benefits of opioid prescriptions to make sure they’re the best treatment option.
That’s where AHIP’s new resource becomes really important: The FAQ document can support conversations between patients and providers as they explore options for managing and relieving pain. It covers everything from signs and symptoms of addiction to proper pill storage and disposal. This resource adds to the work health plans already are doing to address this critical public health issue.
AHIP’s member health plans are embracing a comprehensive approach that includes evidence-based treatments for pain management, more cautious opioid prescribing, and careful patient monitoring. Going beyond the traditional role of health insurer, plans across the country continue to raise awareness in their communities and collaborate with health care organizations and providers to help their members effectively manage and relieve pain.