In a recent interview with the National Pain Report, Dr. Vanila Singh, the Chairperson of the Pain Management Inter-Agency Task Force kept taking the subject back to the volume of commentary the effort received and the influence it had on the final report.
The report provides advice and recommendations for the development of best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication.
Dr. Singh, who is an anesthesiologist who has treated pain, believes the report shows that the challenges are more than just about treating pain—that they reveal it is “a front-line health care issue.”
That is why she emphasized the importance of 200 professional organizations who commented and over 160 of them who have praised and supported report, including the American Medical Association which has strongly endorsed it.
“Many organizations came out with amazing support of the draft report with great insight,” she said. “This is very important in depicting the relevance across all health care providers and stakeholders, as well as their interest in the Task Force Report.
All told—over 9000 comments including pain patients, pain professional groups, nursing organizations and pharmacists were received.
“The commentary helped make the case of how alarming this situation is,” she said. “The comments had an effect on us the report we wrote.”
“We really heard people who have suffered, continue to suffer and yet still made the effort to write to us,” she said. “My message to them is you always have to have hope.”
The Task Force is an advisory panel and doesn’t have rule making authority. The attention the report has received is already sparking some Congressional interest.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Health Education, Labor and Pensions will hold hearings this summer. The President, Texas Medical Board, Dr. Sherif Zaafran, represented State Medical Boards on the Task Force and he promised to work to integrate the recommendations in his state.
This is an important point because each state has its own approach on how it oversees and/or influences the treatment of chronic pain.
The report covers four main areas—education, access to care, stigma and risk assessment. (If you haven’t read it, you should)
Dr. Singh acknowledges that for a real change to occur it is going to take “all hands-on deck”.
And she emphasized “that’s not a cliché”.
“A huge effort is required because chronic pain touches people of all different backgrounds, different medical conditions,” she said, emphasizing that more education is needed.
The “education” she talks about includes elected and regulatory officials in your state. That’s why we asked Shaina Smith of the U.S. Pain Foundation to write a column that tells you how you as a chronic patient can advocate as an individual from your home. (Read here)
And of course, it includes the academic community which is why Dr. Singh hopes that medical schools and nursing skills will know about the report and start to review it and incorporate it into curricula.
For many in chronic pain, the opioid situation is issue one. We’ll have more on Dr. Singh’s comments on the issue, how the report addresses and the changing landscape given recent CDC, FDA and AMA declarations in our next report.