May 10, 2019
ASA Recognized by HHS for Contributions to Acute and Chronic Pain Best Practices: Society Congratulates Pain Committee Chair Asokumar Buvanendran, M.D.
The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), along with ASA Pain Committee Chair, Asokumar Buvanendran, M.D., were acknowledged this week by the Chief Medical Officer for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for demonstrating early support of the HHS Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force and for providing input on best practice recommendations for acute and chronic pain.
The meeting, which took place on May 9-10, was the third public meeting of the Task Force and included a final vote on recommendations from the Task Force draft report released in December 2018. ASA is pleased to see many of its organizational priorities reflected in the Task Force recommendations. Dr. Buvanendran presented at the first meeting of the Task Force in May 2018 and 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 Perioperative Surgical Home (PSH) model of care and an opioid pilot program geared at reducing opioids in common high-volume surgeries across health care systems.
ASA is honored Dr. Buvanendran’s presentation to the Task Force was so well received and that he has been recognized for his expertise regarding the perioperative setting, as well as chronic pain. It is also gratifying that HHS has continued to engage ASA on strategies to address the opioid crisis, as well as issues impacting pain patients. ASA expressed support for the HHS Task Force efforts in a letter to the Department when it was initially formed and during the meeting, Chief Medical Officer for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Vanila Singh, who oversees the Taskforce vocalized her appreciation for ASA’s early support. ASA also sent formal comments to the Department on the draft report earlier this year and Dr. Singh acknowledged ASA’s contributions and willingness to assist on any matter.
ASA is particularly pleased the Task Force recommendations emphasize multimodal approaches for perioperative pain, including recognizing models like the PSH as a means to reduce opioid use. 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.
Formed after Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2016, the Task Force was charged with developing best practices around acute and chronic pain and is required to submit a report to Congress. The HHS Task Force is not only led by ASA physician member Vanila Singh, M.D. but also includes two other ASA-member physician anesthesiologists, Sherif Zaafran, M.D. and Halena Gazelka, M.D. ASA applauds them for their hard work and establishing these recommendations.
At the public meeting, the Task Force also discussed next steps— including implementation and dissemination. ASA welcomes the opportunity to work with HHS to ensure these best practices are shared and carried out throughout the country.