Now we’ll see what happens. The chronic pain community has been very loud in its demand for a better federal approach to treating pain.
The latest attempt is now public.
The Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force, a federal advisory committee established by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 released its final report Thursday on acute and chronic pain management best practices, calling for what the HHS described as a balanced, individualized, patient-centered approach.
The Task Force final report underscores the need to address stigma, risk assessment, access to care and education. It also highlights five broad categories for pain treatment: medications, interventional procedures, restorative therapies, behavioral health, and complementary and integrative health approaches.
“There is a no one-size-fits-all approach when treating and managing patients with painful conditions,” said Vanila M. Singh, M.D., MACM, Task Force chair, and chief medical officer of the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health. “Individuals who live with pain are suffering and need compassionate, individualized and effective approaches to improving pain and clinical outcomes. This report is a roadmap that is desperately needed to treat our nation’s pain crisis.”
The Task Force was created during a national opioid epidemic, but also at a time when an estimated 50 million adults in the United States experience chronic daily pain. As such, the report emphasizes safe opioid stewardship by recommending more time for history-taking, screening tools, lab tests, and clinician time with patients to establish a therapeutic alliance and to set clear goals for improved functionality, quality of life, and activities of daily living. Medication disposal and safe medication storage are also emphasized for patient safety.
The report includes a section highlighting disparities and unique challenges faced by special populations, including veterans, active military, women, youth, older adults, American Indians and Alaska Natives, cancer patients and those in palliative care, and patients with sickle cell disease and other chronic, relapsing painful conditions.
The U.S. Pain Foundation—the nation’s largest pain patient advocacy group, told its members in an email: “Getting Congress to pay attention is vital. To do that, we need you to flood your legislators with emails and calls. It’s especially important we reach out to members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee.”
We invite you to read the report and push your Congressman and Senator to listen. You can use this form to contact them.