It's been said that the best treatment regimen is whichever one the patient will follow.
Based on that logic, it stands to reason that to help patients reduce their long-term use of opioids, physicians need to figure out how to ensure their buy-in.
And achieving that goal, according to a guide HHS published last October,(www.hhs.gov) requires that physicians
- educate patients about the risks and benefits of continued opioid therapy;
- collaborate with them in making decisions about tapering;
- individualize the taper plan based on patients' goals and concerns;
- monitor patients for signs of pain or emotional distress (e.g., anxiety, depression) and pause the taper, if indicated, to allow them to acquire skills to deal with those issues; and
- ensure that they receive appropriate psychosocial support as the process unfolds.
Designed to aid clinicians seeking to reduce opioid dosage or discontinue long-term opioid therapy in patients with chronic pain, the guide aims to improve clinical outcomes and reduce health risks in those taking opioids for pain management. "In each case," the guide advises, "the clinician should review the risks and benefits of the current therapy with the patient and decide if tapering is appropriate based on individual circumstances."
Now, the CDC is offering interested physicians even more information on the topic. On Jan. 30, the agency hosted an interactive Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity call(emergency.cdc.gov) that discussed certain aspects of the guide in further detail. The call was presented by Adm. Brett Giroir, M.D., HHS assistant secretary for health; William Compton, M.D., M.P.E., deputy director of NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse; and Capt. Deborah Dowell, M.D., M.P.H., chief medical officer of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
During the live event, the presenters sought to give clinicians the knowledge and skills to
- identify criteria that should be considered when contemplating reducing or discontinuing opioid therapy,
- discuss important issues that need to be considered before deciding whether to taper opioids,
- describe steps to promote patient safety before initiating a taper,
- identify practices associated with improved outcomes when opioids are tapered, and
- discuss appropriate management approaches to challenges that may arise during the tapering process.
For clinicians who didn't participate in the Jan. 30 call, a web-on-demand version of the activity has been posted online at the above link that will allow clinicians to claim up to one AMA Physician's Recognition Award Category 1 credit.
To earn the credit, physicians must log in to their CDC account(tceols.cdc.gov) (instructions for creating a free account are provided), enter the appropriate course information and complete a series of nine steps.(tceols.cdc.gov) CME for the web-on-demand activity will be available through 11:59 p.m. ET March 3, 2022.
Still have questions? Feel free to contact the CDC via email for additional information.
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