Over the last fifteen years, we have seen a dramatic increase in opioid overdose deaths. In the United States, 91 people die every day of opioid overdose. Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control shows that nearly 50 percent of those deaths are caused by the abuse of prescription opioids. For a long time, opioids have been considered as the best pain management option out there. But, those options are expanding.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are a class of drug that is used to treat moderate to severe pain and can be prescribed to a patient by a doctor. In recent years, opioid use has become a more commonly accepted way to treat chronic pain that is unrelated to cancer or other diseases. Between 1999 and 2015, a number of opiates dispensed quadrupled. Alarmingly, the reports of pain over the same period of time have stayed relatively constant. This lends itself to what the CDC is calling an epidemic in opioid use for pain management.
One of the many problems with relying on opioids for pain management is that the treatment is highly addictive. One of the key side effects that make them so addictive is a patient can develop a tolerance to the medication, so it requires more of the opioid to get the same pain relief. Additionally, a patient can quickly develop a physical dependence that will cause them to experience withdrawal symptoms when they are not taking the opioid.
The Joint Commission
These side effects and the addictive qualities of opioids make them a less than ideal go-to solution for pain management. As the usage increases and the aftermath become more deadly, the Joint Commission is stepping in and developing updated regulations for pain assessment and management.
The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization that is responsible for the accreditation and certification of health care organizations and programs. This accreditation and certification are recognized as a symbol of high-quality health care.
New Regulations for Pain Management
In July of this year, the Joint Commission released their official newsletter that included their enhanced requirements for pain assessment and management that accredited hospitals have to adhere to. These new standards will go into effect on January 1st, 2018.
After a full year of research and a standards review panel of experts, the new standards were released for comment in January of 2017 and included the following:
- Selection of a leadership team responsible specifically for pain management and safe opioid prescription practices.
- Including the patient in the development of their pain management plan.
- Setting reasonable and measurable goals for their plan.
- Maintaining and promoting safe opioid use through the identification and monitoring of potentially high-risk patients.
- Facilitating clinician access to prescription drug monitoring program databases.
- Conducting performance improvement activities focused on pain assessment and management for the purposes of increased safety and quality.
The overall goal of these new regulations is to encourage medical professionals and patients to look outside of quick fixes like opioids for pain management.
A New Take On Pain Management
With hospitals now being required to include non-pharmacologic treatments in plans to manage pain, more homeopathic options come to the forefront. Hospitals across the nation will now be partnering with and referring patients to chiropractors to provide their patients with a more complete management plan for their pains.
The priority of managing pain is being helping a person feel 100% again. Chiropractic serves as a long-term remedy for patients struggling with pain and will support the mission of decreasing opioid dependence and overdose.