The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) today announced its support of President Donald J. Trump’s announcement officially declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency. The ASA applauds the president’s administration for taking this important step toward addressing drug addiction and opioid overuse and abuse. As pain medicine specialists, physician anesthesiologists are at the forefront of the issue, working with numerous regulatory agencies, health care organizations, and other stakeholders to advance opioid safety. Of particular note, ASA has partnered with the hospitals of Premier Inc. to launch a national opioid safety pilot. The pilot seeks to decrease opioid use during and after surgery as well as at discharge, by employing multimodal therapy, through evidence-based medical practices and patient education.
“Today’s announcement will have a lasting effect on physicians and patients, by enabling federal agencies to take whatever steps necessary to address the epidemic, as well as increasing treatment capacity for those with substance abuse disorders,” said ASA President James D. Grant, M.D., M.B.A. “The opioid crisis is devastating and affects everyone, rich and poor. It’s got to stop, and reducing opioid use during recovery after surgery and providing the necessary treatment people need are a big part of the solution. Physician anesthesiologists are most equipped to understand the intricacy of post-surgical pain and alternative treatment options to best manage this pain rather than relying solely on opioids.”
Although the declaration does not provide for any new or additional funding, it will allow for the shifting of resources in existing programs to help address the epidemic. The president also announced a massive advertising campaign against drug use and highlighted the current work federal agencies are already doing, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Veterans Health Administration.
More than 2 million Americans abuse opioid pain medications. Since 2000, the rate of opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. has increased 200 percent. To help deter future incidents of addiction, ASA collaborated with the CDC on the Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, which provides recommendations for primary care providers on opioid prescribing, including when to initiate or continue opioids for chronic pain; follow-up and discontinuation; and addresses risk and harm of opioid use. Because of ASA’s involvement, the CDC modified the guideline’s recommendation on acute pain.
ASA has collaborated with other pain societies, through the Pain Care Coalition (PCC) -; comprised of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, American Pain Society, and ASA. The coalition works together to support policies to further responsible pain care. Most recently, the PCC submitted comments to the White House Opioid Commission, in response to the commission’s interim report.
Taking a unique approach to tackling this epidemic, ASA is partnering with Premier Inc., and its network of hospitals, on a national opioid safety pilot to reduce patient harm from opioid misuse, dependence and addiction. The six-month pilot, which began in September, is geared at addressing opioid misuse and abuse, through implementation of evidence-based practices and education provided by ASA physician members, aimed at improving pain management and reducing opioid prescriptions after surgery. This is one way to reduce the number of medications in America’s households and prevent them from getting into the wrong hands, a large contributing factor to this epidemic.