A poll is out that indicates that physicians who prescribe opioids aren’t sure they are doing a very good in managing patients they prescribe.
Only 25% of physicians who are certified to prescribe opioids believe they are “very confident” in their skills to manage patients using these drugs.
The poll was released by Boston University’s SCOPE of Pain program. SCOPE is an acronym for Safe and Competent Opioid Prescribing Education.
The majority of the physicians surveyed agree. More than 90 percent say being knowledgeable about opioid therapy is an important issue.
Many have also taken proactive steps to improve their opioid prescribing practices. Sixty-five percent have implemented systems to support the safe initiation, monitoring and discontinuing of chronic opioid therapy.
Of those that have not implemented such systems, more than 60 percent said it was not a priority given limited time,” said Daniel Alford, director of the SCOPE Program, “It’s troubling that so many physicians say implementing safe opioid prescribing systems is not a priority, even though this is an acute issue. We’ve created a situation where some physicians are comfortable not doing anything about it. That’s why education is so critical.”
Creating better awareness of online training opportunities is part of the solution. More than 46 percent of physicians who completed continuing education on safe opioid prescribing completed it online.
“Chronic pain is incredibly common,” said Daniel Alford, director of the Addiction Medicine Residency program at Boston University School of Medicine. “A third of our population has said, yes, they’ve had chronic pain.”
Alford, like many believes more training on the treatment of chronic pain and safe opioid prescribing and management should be covered in medical school. He told Forbes Magazine that patients generally don’t appreciate the risk.
“While they may understand that others may become addicted or overdose, they are in denial about how this risk may apply to themselves,” Alfred said to Forbes reporter C.J. Arlotta. “Many patients don’t appreciate that opioids have limited efficacy for chronic pain and may not be the best treatment for everyone that suffers from chronic pain.”
Chronic Pain affects over 100-million Americans. This week’s cover story on Time Magazine talks about the pain killer addiction “crisis” in this country. Here’s the National Pain Report story on that. It said that 9.4 million Americans take opioids for long-term pain and 2.1 million people are estimated to be addicted to the medication.
There were no reliable studies proving opioids worked safely against chronic pain, because it would be unethical to require pain patients in a control group to go months on end without medication. “It’s not practical for us to require people to go for a year on a placebo,” says Janet Woodcock, head of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research told Time.