Your Part in the Opioid Epidemic
It seems counter-intuitive to consider something so far removed from our current anxiety over the coronavirus pandemic. But this is the perfect time to focus your considerable, under-utilized energy and brainpower on something new to learn and apply in your practice (and it’s required to maintain your license).
Whether you and your team are stranded at home or not, the Opioid Epidemic rages on. How this affects you personally (and your practice as a whole) includes at least these things:
- Controlled substance licensees are now required to receive a one-time opioid awareness training.
- A bona fide patient-prescriber relationship is now required before prescribing a controlled substance.
- New medications are still being added to the Schedule 5 list of controlled substances (i.e. gabapentin, a medication commonly used to treat nerve pain and seizures)
To bring this directly back to your individual practice … go to your practice management software. Print off a master list of all your default prescriptions. Focus on the controlled substances on the list. Ask yourself these questions:
- Are your controlled substance prescriptions routinely written as part of a combination pain management regimen?
- Do you have a focused conversation about pain management and the chances of addiction with each patient when you prescribe controlled substances?
- Have you conducted a focused training with your team regarding the opioid epidemic and the steps you and the practice are taking to fight it? Does each team member know their role in this effort?
Here’s where you can take action while you’re stuck at home. The American Dental Association (ADA) has an entire vault of educational information on the Opioid Crisis with topics such as:
- Pain and Patient Expectations
- Analgesic Prescribing
- Opioids: Current Status of the Crisis, Response and Future Direction
- Adolescent Pain Management
- Reducing Opioid Abuse
- Legal and Ethical Issues
- Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs
Even while you are sheltering in place, you can take steps to move you, your team and your practice forward by tackling this enormous problem. Engage your team in this process, you’ll be impressed by how much information they have based on their relationship with your patients and their perspective on the situation.
There is so much that we are not able to do at this time. This is the perfect opportunity to begin to focus your time and energy to move forward and take action that supports you, your team and your patients.