Advocating for You: Focus on the role physician anesthesiologists play in addressing the opioid crisis
Why This Matters
As the universally acknowledged experts in pain management, physician anesthesiologists have been at the forefront of implementing best practices to reduce opioid utilization and consumption for patients.
ASA recommends lawmakers work with physician anesthesiologists and other medical specialties to prevent opioid misuse and abuse by recognizing that the surgical setting and other acute care settings are a unique opportunity to ensure patients receive the appropriate care and education regarding opioids.
What You Should Know
ASA educates members of Congress and federal agencies about the role physician anesthesiologists play in addressing the opioid crisis, especially regarding prevention of opioid misuse, abuse and addiction.
ASA engages in activities that rely on and demonstrate that opioid-sparing techniques used by anesthesiologists— regional anesthesia and analgesia with a multimodal approach— are key in reducing opioids during and following surgery.
Advocacy efforts continue to focus on increasing patient access to multimodal and multidisciplinary pain management, as well as insurance coverage of non-opioid therapies; enhancing physician education, including safe and effective opioid prescribing; encouraging safe storage and disposal of opioid medications; and increased research on pain and non-opioid alternatives.
What ASA is Doing For You
ASA hosted a landmark Pain Summit with 14 medical specialty organizations to discuss acute surgical pain principles that will serve as the basis for a multi-society acute pain resource. The summit’s focus was on key principles, many of which are rooted in techniques to reduce opioids, like multimodal analgesia.
ASA collaborated with the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) on the development of a Pain Alleviation Toolkit. This encompasses strategies for safe and effective alleviation of postoperative pain and optimal opioid stewardship, including resources for clinicians and patients to help patients get as comfortable as possible, as safely as possible. We hope this unique partnership between two specialty societies can spread to other disciplines.
ASA has been a multi-year, co-sponsor of the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, the largest national collaboration of professionals from local, state, and federal agencies, business, academia, treatment providers, and allied communities impacted by prescription drug abuse and heroin use. Each year, 3,000+ stakeholders participate to address this public health crisis.
ASA partnered with Premier, Inc. and its network of hospitals on two separate a six-month pilots aimed at reducing opioid use in the inpatient setting. The first pilot (September 2017- March 2018) had 30 hospitals and the second (October 2018-March 2016) expanded the project to 60 hospitals and additional partners, adding the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the American College of Surgeons and the Institute for Patient and Family-Centered Care. The pilots focused on common high-volume surgical procedures (hip, knee, and colectomy) with the goal of reducing the overall number of opioids prescribed to patients receiving these surgeries. ASA physician-members provided education to the participating hospitals on best practices, including multimodal approaches to pain management.