The burgeoning opioid epidemic takes a devastating toll on patients, their families and their communities. Ending it requires strong leadership and collaboration from all stakeholders, working together at the national, state and community levels. America’s hospitals are playing a key role in the search for solutions. This week, for example, Steven Diaz, M.D. – the senior vice president and chief medical officer for MaineGeneral Health in Augusta – testified before the Senate Special Committee on Aging on the alarming impact of opioid overdosing among the elderly and the need for a multidisciplinary approach to treating chronic pain. Among other issues, Diaz voiced concerns over how the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) pain questions may contribute to the opioid epidemic. Additionally, AHA supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s efforts to develop guidance for prescribing opioids for chronic pain. We’re also working to ensure hospitals nationwide have the tools needed to respond to this multifaceted epidemic and have launched a webpage linking to resources on opioid abuse that also will highlight innovative efforts by state hospital associations. And, we are encouraged by the movement of bipartisan legislation, S.524, expected to reach the Senate floor as soon as next week. The bill would require development of pain management guidelines and provide grants to states for education, treatment and alternatives to incarceration. 

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Perspective
Investing in our country’s health infrastructure is the right move to make.