Money & Business

Missouri Healthcare Associations Issue Guidelines To Curb Painkiller Abuse

By / Dec 7, 2015 (iStock/Thinkstock)

Six associations contributed to the new guidelines that are intended to help health professionals combat growing rates of opioid abuse in the state.

Six healthcare associations in Missouri released new guidelines last week to assist their members in reducing the number of pain medications they are prescribing.

Developed by groups representing primary care physicians, emergency physicians, dentists, and osteopathic physicians, the 10 recommendations [PDF] are intended to help curb growing rates of painkiller abuse and overdoses in the state.

“Missouri doesn’t have a comprehensive policy to address opioid misuse and abuse,” said Christopher Howard, board chair of the Missouri Hospital Association, one of the associations that contributed to the guidelines, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “There are limited options available to identify appropriate use of these necessary but powerful painkillers.”

Missouri is the only state in the country that does not have a drug-monitoring program or electronic database that tracks the prescribing and dispensing of controlled prescription drugs.

And, according to news reports, the state is currently facing a prescription drug abuse epidemic. An October report [PDF] from the Hospital Industry Data Institute found that the rate of overdoses in Missouri in 2014 was twice as high as it was 10 years ago, and the number of hospital visits related to the use of painkillers increased by 137 percent in the last decade.

The new guidelines are also aimed at preventing “doctor shopping,” or attempts to get multiple prescriptions for painkillers, which can include medications such as Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet. Among the recommendations:

  • Non-narcotic treatment of symptomatic, non-traumatic tooth pain should be utilized when possible.
  • Emergency department physicians and providers should not provide prescriptions for controlled substances that are claimed to be lost or destroyed.
  • When narcotics are prescribed, emergency department staff should counsel patients on proper use, storage, and disposal of narcotic medications.

Similar measures aimed at reducing opioid abuse have been enacted in other states. Last week it was reported that several health systems in Oregon adopted new prescribing guidelines for these drugs.

Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. More »

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