New guidelines from Missouri physicians aim to slow opioid crisis

6 days 20 hours 46 minutes ago Tuesday, December 04 2018 Dec 4, 2018 Tuesday, December 04, 2018 2:51:00 PM CST December 04, 2018 in News
By: Nikki Ogle, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - A coalition of Missouri medical and physician groups updated its recommendations for prescribing opioid medications. 

The group consists of the Missouri Academy of Family Physicians, Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, Missouri College of Emergency Physicians, Missouri Dental Association, Missouri Hospital Association and Missouri State Medical Association.

There are four major differences between the updated guidelines and those made in 2015

  • The new recommendations apply to not only emergency department physicians, but those throughout the hospital. 
  • Since 2015, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention released its own guidelines on opioid prescriptions. Doctors should refer to those as well. 
  • Senate Bill 826, which Governor Parson signed into law in July, limited the prescription time for acute pain. The coalition recommends that physicians should limit the amount of opioids for the shortest time possible, but cannot exceed seven days worth of drugs. 
  • Doctors who are prescribing opioids to those who are at a high-risk of overdose should also prescribe naloxone- commonly known as Narcan- an overdose reversal drug. 

Dave Dillon, a spokesperson for the Missouri Hospital Administration, said physicians can use their judgement when it comes to deciding what patients are at a high risk for overdosing.

"What we don’t want to do, is set recommendations that set restrictions on physicians," he said. "If you’re too strict on guidelines, you're taking away the opportunity to use their best judgement and make decisions for their patient."

Dillon said the groups have been working on these changes for months. 

"Our goal has been to move as quickly as possible to get the best information in the people at the front lines of care," he said. 

Dillon said it was important to include all hospital physicians instead of just including those in the emergency departments to add depth. He said there is "constant evolution" in the understanding of opioid abuse. 

"We don’t want to create another generation of people that are addicted," Dillon said. "We want to be as informed as possible, so we can to use them where appropriate, but to do it to where we are the least likely to harm patients in the process." 

Peter Koopman, a family medicine doctor, said the group's changes will not solve the opioid epidemic, but said Missouri's medical community it trying to avoid future opioid depedency. 

"As a physician, our goal is to do no harm and it's clear how opioids have been used in the last 20 years, we're doing harm and we want to change that," Koopman said. 

The changes will be implemented this month. 

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