By Ed Coghlan
In an effort to address the opioid overdose crisis in Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker reached out last falls to the deans of the four medical schools in the state (commonwealth as they call it) and asked for their help in designing a list of core competencies needing to be covered during medical school to help combat prescription drug misuse, addiction, and overdose fatalities.
Working with the Massachusetts Medical Society and Monica Bharel the commonwealth’s public health commissioner, the schools developed a list of 10 competencies that will be introduced into their curricula beginning this fall.
The Safe Opioid Prescribing Curriculum is being overseen by Daniel Alford an associate professor of medicine and assistant dean for continuing medical education at the Boston University School of Medicine. The 10 core competencies, centered on 3 major areas, are designed to provide a broader, more comprehensive approach “to understanding the physician role in preventing, screening for and managing unhealthy substance use and prescription drug misuse in our patients,” Alford says.
For more on the curriculum, reads this article from the BU website.
Reading the story was Krissy Anderson, a 63-year old chronic pain patient who lives in Florida. The letter “inspired” her to write reporter John O’Rourke a letter reminding that the opioid overdose crisis addresses less than 5% of the chronic pain population.
She wrote: “For so many living with chronic pain on the pain scale between 6 and 10 every day, with whom opioid medications work very well, we are responsible with our medications, we do not go to the ER for early refills, we do not doctor-shop, we do not become addicted and we do not turn to heroin, which the CDC has made clear that we do.”
Anderson, a self-described activist who has written for the National Pain Report, told the reporter that the lives of chronic patients have been “ruined with doctors afraid of prescribing, pharmacies lying to us and refusing to fill Rx’s, and the public calling us “junkies,” addicts and abusers.”
She encouraged them to do more research and to read both the articles and the commentary on articles written by the National Pain Report.
“Suicides,” she wrote, “are rising fast as patients’ meds are taken away. Our armed forces have come home with chronic pain conditions, so please listen to VA patients also. The VA has done an extreme disservice to its members when it comes to healthcare.
If she hears back from O’Rourke she promises him that she will connect with patients who represent the 95% of the 100-million chronic pain patients that are not addicts.
If she hears from him, she’ll let us know and we’ll let you know.