By Ed Coghlan.
How the Canadian province of British Columbia is approaching the treatment of chronic pain might be worth watching.
“There has really been a lack of any appropriate response to chronic pain in our province and in our country,” said Maria Hudspith, executive director of Pain BC, the only non-profit society in Canada to bring together clinical experts and policy-makers to work on chronic pain management initiatives.
In June 2016, B.C. doctors became the first in Canada to face mandatory standards for prescribing opioids and other addictive medications.
She said that after the standards were introduced; doctors began weaning patients off pain medication which left people suffering, especially if they don’t have access to other options for pain relief.
“We have documented cases of people who are no longer able to work, they’ve maxed out their sick time, they’re contemplating going on disability,” she said.
“We know that to effectively treat chronic pain means more than just giving them prescription medicine, she said.”
Her group – which is what is called a collective impact model – includes physicians, patients, business, pharmaceutical and policy maker is pressing the provincial government to make an investment in how chronic pain is treated.
They are working to secure an investment for the expansion of services that can create multi-modal treatment of chronic pain.
Hudspith’s group is pressing for an inter-disciplinary approach to treatment, give family doctors more time to treat a patient (currently the average office visit assuming you can get one is 7 minutes) and robust clinical education programs.
“People recognize the treatment of chronic pain is an important issue,” she told The National Pain Report. “We are pleased the government is working with us on developing an action plan that makes sense.”
Her group is what she calls a “Big Tent” involving clinical, research, business and legal experts. She also pointed out that her group doesn’t any take funding from pharmaceutical companies.
She told CTV, “Chronic pain is a very misunderstood condition. The approach needs to be very different from other chronic conditions that are very well understood.”