WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) commended President Donald Trump for signing into law, H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, legislation to address the nation’s opioid crisis. The new law includes provisions developed by ASA to advance opioid reducing initiatives in the surgical setting.
ASA is pleased to see the expertise of physician anesthesiologists reflected in this new law, with inclusion of H.R. 5718, the Perioperative Reduction of Opioids (PRO) Act. However, a new study reveals the need for more patient education regarding the many options for pain relief after surgery, beyond opioids.
A study presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2018 annual meeting last week found people expect to be prescribed opioids and perceive them to be the most effective form of pain relief after surgery.
“This finding is especially concerning with the daily headlines around this issue and so many of us personally touched by the opioid crisis,” said ASA President Linda Mason, M.D., FASA. “Almost everyone knows someone impacted and while opioids may effectively relieve pain after surgeries and procedures, they may not be the best option.”
In the study, researchers set out to understand expectations of pain management after back, ear-nose-and-throat, abdomen, or hip or knee replacement surgery. The majority of patients in the study believed opioids would be most effective, even if they didn’t expect to receive them: 94 percent of those who assumed they would get opioids thought they would be effective, as did 67.5 percent of those who didn’t expect to receive them. Only 35.6 percent of patients expecting to receive acetaminophen thought it would be effective and 53.1 percent of those expecting to receive nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs thought they would be effective.
Because the surgical experience can be a patient’s first exposure to opioids that may ultimately lead to opioid abuse and misuse, ASA is grateful to U.S. Rep. Jason Smith (MO) and U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (NY) for leading the proposal to recognize the surgical setting as a venue to prevent these problems that could lead to addiction. The PRO Act provides for expert support through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to identify and develop recommendations around best practices to reduce opioids in the surgical setting, with the involvement of medical organizations, such as ASA.
ASA believes this legislation will promote necessary patient education about the options for pain relief after surgery, including pain medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Physician anesthesiologists are experts in pain management and are uniquely qualified to prevent abuse and misuse by employing opioid-sparing techniques.
The provisions supported by ASA in H.R. 6 not only include establishing expert support through HHS, but also include a grant program to promote best practices around alternatives to opioids for hospitals, emergency departments and other acute care settings; a study on the impact of state and federal prescribing limits; and grants to increase drug take-back and disposal programs.
THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ANESTHESIOLOGISTS
Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 52,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves.
For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at asahq.org. To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit asahq.org/WhenSecondsCount. Like ASA on Facebook; follow ASALifeline on Twitter.