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Opioids: Safe Use and Management

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Learning Objectives

  • Assessing pain
  • Setting patient expectations
  • Understanding laws and recommendations

Course Description

Of the 20.5 million Americans 12 or older that had a substance use disorder in 2015, 2 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 591,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin. In 2015, 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose deaths related to heroin. In October 2017, President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency.

Physicians find themselves at the epicenter of this storm, buffeted on one side by public opinion and policy, and thrown about on the other side by their patients’ needs and desires. This course explores:

  • Assessing pain and establishing patient expectations
  • Proper medication choice, dosing, and titration žž
  • Opioid tolerance, dependence, pseudoaddiction, and addiction žž
  • Complex patient presentations (benzodiazepines, methadone, naloxone, suboxone) žž
  • National opioid prescribing guidelines and legal considerations (PDMPs, diversion, state prescribing limitations)

Author Information

Mass General Brigham is a Boston-based non-profit hospital and physicians network that includes Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, two of the nation’s most prestigious teaching institutions.

Did You Know...

  • According to the CDC, about 20% of patients presenting to physicians with pain-related diagnoses (not including cancer) receive an opioid prescription
  • In 2012, healthcare providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication
  • From 1999 to 2014, more than 165,000 persons died from overdose related to opioid pain medication in the US

Course at a Glance

target audience icon Target Audience:


time to complete icon Time to Complete:

30 Minutes

contributor icon Contributor:

Partners Health

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