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.
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
ASA partnered with Premier, Inc. and its network of hospitals on a six-month pilot, which specifically looked at reducing opioid use in the inpatient setting. The Safer Post-Operative Pain Management Reducing Opioid Related Harm Pilot was launched in 2017 to help reduce harm associated with the use of opioids in patients undergoing certain high-volume surgical procedures. Preliminary data showed positive results, and ASA is currently in the planning process for a second pilot, with additional hospitals and partners involved.
ASA and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) are collaborating to develop strategies for safe and effective alleviation of postoperative pain and optimal opioid stewardship that will enhance prevention and limit the need for legislation around prescribing limits. So far, ASA and AAOS have reached a consensus on maximums for opioid strength and prescription size for various procedures. Future efforts include development of a pain alleviation toolkit and a set of strategies and tools for safe and effective alleviation of acute pain.
In April 2018, ASA co-sponsored and presented at the 7th annual National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit (also known as the “Opioid Summit”) in Atlanta. Nearly 3,000 stakeholders participated, including federal and state agencies, payers, patient advocates and health care professionals. ASA will also sponsor and participate in the 2019 conference.