April 02, 2019
ASA Expresses Support for Key Elements of HHS Pain Task Force Recommendations
In comments submitted to the federal government, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) expressed formal support for the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Pain Management Best Practices Interagency Task Force. Last year, the Task Force released a draft report on acute and chronic pain management best practice recommendations and accepted public comments through April 1.
ASA was gratified to see a number of its organizational priorities reflected in the Task Force draft recommendations. Asokumar Buvanendran, M.D., Chair of ASA’s Committee on Pain Medicine, presented at a meeting of the Task Force in May 2018. He discussed the unique role physician anesthesiologists can serve in reducing patient exposure to and use of opioids during surgery and at discharge. He highlighted key ASA initiatives, such as the PSH and an opioid pilot program geared at reducing opioids in common high-volume surgeries across health care systems.
ASA is particularly pleased the Task Force draft report emphasizes multimodal approaches for perioperative pain, including recognizing models like the ASA Perioperative Surgical Home (PSH) as a means to reduce opioid use. The PSH is an ASA-developed model of standardized coordinated care that spans the entire surgical experience, from the decision to have surgery to discharge and beyond. Physician anesthesiologists are using opioid-sparing techniques to impact the number of opioids prescribed to patients and consequently the number of unused opioids in individual households following surgery. These techniques have been incorporated into the PSH to successfully reduce opioid use.
Other Task Force recommendations supported by ASA include appropriate training and education of those performing interventional pain procedures; insurance coverage for evidence-based, non-opioid pain treatments; increased patient and provider education; improving prescription drug monitoring programs; and a review and update of the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.
The HHS Task Force is led by ASA member and physician anesthesiologist Vanila Singh, M.D., the medical director for the assistant secretary for health in HHS, and also includes two other ASA-member physician anesthesiologists, Sherif Zaafran, M.D. and Halena Gazelka, M.D.
Formed after Congress passed key legislation to address the opioids crisis in 2016, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), the Task Force is required to submit a report to Congress in 2019.
ASA applauds the work of the Task Force and commends Dr. Singh and her colleagues for putting forth these comprehensive recommendations.
Read ASA Press Release on the Task Force Draft Report
Learn more about the Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force