Clinician Education on Prescribing Practices

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is much variability on the prescribing practices across the nation. The amount of opioids prescribed per person was three times higher in 2015 than in 1999. This translates to enough opioids to medicate every American around the clock for three weeks. By appropriately prescribing opioids and offering alternative pain management options or both, practitioners have the ability to limit potential long-term use, prevent opioid use disorder, and decrease opioids available for illegal theft and resale in the community. Hospitals are educating their clinicians in a variety of ways—for example, through medical staff meetings, online CME, grand rounds and benchmarking—and sharing data with clinicians about their prescribing practices compared to others. The National Academy of Medicine emphasizes the importance of providing clinician education on appropriate prescribing practices and on recognizing and treating substance use disorder. These resources support those efforts.

Acute Pain

Chronic Pain

  • CDC’s Quality Improvement and Care Coordination Resource (2016). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control has developed and released the Quality Improvement and Care Coordination: Implementing the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. The purpose of the resource is to encourage careful and selective use of long-term opioid therapy in the context of managing chronic pain through evidence-based prescribing, quality improvement (QI) measures to advance the integration of the guideline into clinical practice, practice-level strategies to improve care coordination; and a resource toolkit.
  • Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion – Pathways to Safer Opioid Use. The Pathways to Safer Opioid Use, created by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP), is an interactive training that promotes the appropriate, safe, and effective use of opioids to manage chronic pain. It’s based on the opioid-related recommendations in the National Action Plan for Adverse Drug Event Prevention.
  • Dosing and Titrating Opioids (Aug 2016). Evidence indicates that the risk for opioid-use disorder and overdose increases as dosage increases. CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain provides recommendations about the types of opioid formulations at initiation, starting dosages, morphine milligram equivalent dosage calculation methods, dose titrating considerations, and tapering methods. During this COCA Call, clinicians will learn about the association between opioid dosage and opioid therapy benefits and harms. In addition, presenters will use a case study of a patient with severe back pain on oxycodone to guide clinicians through safe opioid prescribing practices.
  • The Invisible Crisis: Understanding Pain Management in Medicare Beneficiaries with Sickle Cell Disease (Sept 2018). This resource created by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) describes opioid utilization patterns and the characteristics of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries with and without Sickle Cell Disease, based on Medicare Part D prescription drug records.
  • Guidelines for the Chronic Use of Opioid Analgesics. (2017) This document has been adopted as policy by the Federation of State Medical Boards. This policy document includes relevant recommendations, and is in keeping with recent releases of advisories issued by the CDC and FDA. This policy is intended as a resource providing overall guidance to state medical and osteopathic boards in assessing physicians’ management of pain in their patients and whether opioid analgesics are used in a medically appropriate manner.
  • CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. (2016) This guideline provides recommendations for primary care clinicians who are prescribing opioids for chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care and end-of-life care.
  • Guideline Resources: CDC Opioid Guideline Mobile App. (2016) CDC’s Opioid Guideline App is designed to help providers apply the recommendations of CDC’s Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain into clinical practice by putting the entire guideline, tools, and resources in the palm of their hand.
  • VA Management of Opioid Therapy for Chronic Pain. (2017) This guideline describes the critical decision points in the management of opioid therapy for chronic pain and provides clear and comprehensive evidence-based recommendations incorporating current information and practices for practitioners throughout the Department of Defense and VA health care systems. The workgroup consensus statements are provided to minimize harm and increase patient safety in patients requiring opioid therapy.
  • CDC's Guideline Resources: Posters. (August 2017). The Guideline for Prescribing Opioid for Chronic Pain is intended to help primary care providers determine when and how to prescribe opioids for chronic pain, and it equips providers with the information they need to discuss chronic pain treatment with their patients. The posters below can help patients and providers work together to manage pain effectively and safely.

Clinician Trainings, Simulations, and Other Resources

  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Laws and Rules. This webpage houses links to all prescription drug monitoring programs by state. It includes links to websites on laws and regulation/rules. A subpage includes PDMP Policies and Procedures, Technology, PDMMP Requestors, and Types of available reports.
  • Applying CDC’s Guideline for Prescribing Opioids. (2017) This interactive, web-based training features self-paced learning, case-based content, knowledge checks and integrated resources to help health care providers gain a deeper understanding of the Practice Guideline. Includes tips on implementing the Guideline into primary care practice and overcoming challenges. Earn free CE credit.
  • Joint Commission Enhances Pain Assessment and Management Requirements for Accredited Hospitals. (2017) The Joint Commission’s announcement of the implementation of new and revised pain assessment and management standards, effective January 1, 2018, for its accredited hospitals
  • Substance Use Trainings. (2017) The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (SAMHSA-HRSA) Center for Integrated Health Solutions compiled a repository of resources including online trainings, webinars, live classes, in-person meetings and symposiums about substance use that are available to health care professionals.
  • Providers’ Clinical Support System for Opioid Therapies: Education and Training. PCSS is a collaborative project led by the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry with a coalition of national professional organizations that provides educational trainings and resources to prescribers and providers. Clinical support is provided through online modules, webinars, archived webinars and the PCSS-O mentoring program
  • A Primer on the Opioid Morbidity and Mortality Crisis: What Every Prescriber Should Know. (n.d.) The American Medical Association has created this e-learning module that incorporates animation, infographics, and storytelling to raise physician awareness about prescription opioid-related morbidity and mortality, factors influencing opioid-related harm, and what steps can be taken to promote the safe use of this important class of medications.
  • CO*RE. (n.d.) CO*RE is a member-led healthcare professional organization that collectively represents 750,000 clinicians. This group has compiled a host of resources including live courses, online courses, state-specific information and other tools.
  • Continuing Medical Education (CME) Finder. (n.d.) This online search tool for healthcare professionals lists accredited CE activities that are compliant with the FDA’s Opioid Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS).
  • CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) – on Opioids (March 2018). This article from the CDC provides an overview on the overdose deaths involving opioids, cocaine, and psychostimulants in the United States from 2015–2016.
  • SAMHSA Reports and Detailed Tables From the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) (September 2017). Find reports and detailed tables that present findings and data based on results of the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
  • Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit (2016). This toolkit from SAMHSA offers strategies to health care providers, communities, and local governments for developing practices and policies to help prevent opioid-related overdoses and deaths. Access reports for community members, prescribers, patients and families, and those recovering from opioid overdose.
  • Annals of Surgery: Special Series: The Opioid Crisis (2017). This webpage houses multiple resources on a variety of opioid-related topics such as, using electronic prescriptions for opioids and potential culture changes in surgery
  • Clinical Pharmacist Chronic Pain Services: Implementing Interprofessional Care (March 2016): Webinar from the AHA’s Physician Leadership Forum and American Society of Health-System Pharmacists describing a clinical pharmacy service that supports the management of chronic pain patients and the benefits these services provide to hospitals and health systems – including the challenges providers face in managing substance abuse.

Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS)

Prescribing Guidelines Case Examples