Ongoing Opioid Guideline Issues

Authors of the 2016 opioid guideline are now bringing more heat to medical professionals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recently clarified the opioid guideline, but the authors said in a new paper that medical professionals had misapplied the recommendation they had made.

Deborah Dowell, M.D. wrote, “unfortunately, some policies and practices purportedly derived from the guideline have in fact been inconsistent with, and often go beyond its recommendations.” Basically saying that medical professionals have been doing the wrong thing. But, this seems to be more of a cover-up for their poorly made guideline. And as we’ve covered in past blogs, many doctors have been forced by payers to leave their hurting patients untreated because of this guideline. Physicians know all too well how often their opinions get ignored by insurance companies.

However, the American Medical Association (AMA) is still welcoming the CDC’s revised guideline, as it has been much needed and will help things move in the right direction.

Patrice A. Harris, M.D., the president-elect of the AMA and chair of the Opioid Task Force, had this to say, “The AMA appreciates that the CDC recognizes that patients in pain require individualized care and that the agency’s 2016 guidelines on opioids have been widely misapplied. The guidelines have been treated as hard and fast rules, leaving physicians unable to offer the best care for their patients.”

The AMA is the voice for physicians all around the nation and is causing the CDC to listen more intently. The first step still won’t be giving opioids to a patient. However, providing opioids to patients who can responsibly use them, and need them to better their lives, should be a more accessibly available course of action for medical professionals. Also, being able to help patients with methods other than opioids should be easier as well.

“The guidelines have been misapplied so widely that it will be a challenge to undo the damage,” Harris adds that the AMA is urging a detailed review of the formulary and benefit design by payers and pharmacy benefit managers to ensure patients have access to both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatments. The CDC made sure to clarify that the guideline was not meant to limit access to pain management for patients with cancer or sickle cell disease. The guideline was put it into play because prescription opioids could turn into opioid addiction. The CDC also said that more than 200,000 people have died from opioid overdose since the crisis began in the late ’90s.

When problems surface, making it more difficult to give their patients the care they need, medical professionals need to be heard. The AMA has provided that voice within this ongoing struggle. Locally, we here at Emerald Coast Medical Association can help you be heard too. A perk available to our physicians is the Emerald Coast Medical Association member meetings. In these meetings, you will hear new information, meet fellow medical professionals, and have the ability to offer your own opinions. Additionally, our Board of Governors routinely takes time to advocate for our members and their patients at the local, state, and federal levels of government.


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