What are four things that can be done to address the opioid epidemic?

Of all of the crucial activities required to address the opioid epidemic, ongoing education to providers, patients, and families on appropriate monitoring, securing, transitioning, and disposing of opioids is one of the highest priorities. This educational roadmap consists of four activities:

1) Monitoring — Every patient and family member should be instructed on the importance of taking the medication as directed and to try alternative pain management techniques first to reduce the risk of abuse and addiction. It is important to instruct individuals to keep a record of when they take their prescribed opioid medication. Healthcare providers are responsible to check with a prescription database monitoring program with every prescription.

2) Securing — It is the responsibility of the prescriber, nurse, and pharmacy to ensure patients are properly educated on safe use, and proper storage in order to prevent adverse drug events in patients and others.

3) Transitioning — teaching patients how to taper off opioids and/or to use non-opioid measures for pain control such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or fixed tapering schedules.

4)  Disposal — educating patients and caregivers on proper medication disposal will help reduce prescription opioid diversion and accidental overdose.

Together, these areas (monitoring, securing, transitioning and disposing of opiates) will serve as a roadmap for ongoing education and awareness initiatives surrounding the opioid epidemic.

Access “The Opioid Epidemic: Improving Opioid Safety for Patients Through Prescriber, Patient, & Family Education” at: https://pcssnow.org/event/opioid-epidemic-improving-opioid-safety-patients-prescriber-patient-family-education/

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