A panel composed of experts from the American Academy of Pain Medicine and the American Pain Society came out with a new set of guidelines to assist doctors with regards to the prescription of potent pain medications for management of chronic pain unrelated to cancer. The said clinical practice guidelines are the first of their kind as they have been created based on comprehensive studies.
The guidelines are currently published in The Journal of Pain.
The clinical practice guideline was a product of collaboration between Oregon Health & Science University’s Evidence-based Practice Center and the APS with the AAPM over the past two years. The said organizations went through over 8,000 unpublished studies and published abstracts to find more clinical evidence that will work as basis for these recommendations.
The guidelines were aimed at addressing the various issues that clinicians are faced with when it comes to prescribing opioids for chronic pain, says Roger Chou, MD of the American Pain Society Clinical Practice Guidelines Program. Chou is the director and principal investigator of the project and is a scientific director at the EPC.
“A key part of this process was performing a comprehensive literature review to inform the recommendations – though an important take home message is that even though the recommendations represent the best judgment of the panel based on currently available literature, there is still a lot of research that needs to be done.”
The panel concluded that, “opioid pain medications are safe and effective for carefully selected, well-monitored patients with chronic non-cancer pain.”This gave rise to 25 recommendations that gained the unanimous consent of most of the panel’s members.
The practice of prescribing opioids for pain management has become increasingly prevalent as many clinicians have already accepted their effectiveness. The set of recommendations worked to remind everyone that, while opioids are indeed effective, there are still looming threats of abuse and addiction that should be addressed in relation to the practice.
The panel encourages clinicians to continuously monitor patients under opioid medication in terms of functioning, behavior and pain intensity. Drug screens should be conducted regularly to identify any warning signs of aberrant drug behaviors.
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