New National Academies opioid guidelines aim to make prescribing more consistent

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued a report outlining a framework to develop acute pain prescribing plans Dec. 19.

According to STAT, the report said any group creating prescribing guidelines should consider numerous factors including evidence for using opioids versus alternatives, refill requests, the possibility that some pills will go unused and larger potential implications including pain relief and quality of life. Between 41 percent and 72 percent of postoperative patients don't finish their prescriptions and between 6 percent and 14 percent of patients remain on opioids six to 12 months after an initial prescription following a surgery or emergency visit, the report stated. 

The new guidelines allow space for individual clinical decisions, only defining acute pain as sudden and lasting up to 90 days. 

Any group implementing guidelines should follow-up with patients over time to make sure pain was adequately managed and that quality of life did not decrease, Bernard Lo, MD, president of the Greenwall Foundation, told STAT.

More articles on opioids:
Nearly 30 percent of US opioid-poisoning cases occur among children
Treating newborns exposed to opioids cost US hospitals $572M+ in 2016
Verily planning $5M expansion of tech-based opioid treatment initiative

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