Anesthesiology and pain medicine should play a leading role in developing effective alternatives and solutions to the US opioid crisis, according to the November issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia—a special thematic issue presenting information on the "background, problems, and possible solutions to the opioid epidemic."
The special issue presents research reviews and expert commentaries on the opioid crisis—focusing on the role of anesthesia and pain medicine physicians who care for patients undergoing surgery and those in need of specialized pain clinic care. Guest Editors Honorio T. Benzon, MD, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, and T. Anthony Anderson, MD, PhD, of Stanford University School of Medicine write: "We wanted to show to the medical community that we, anesthesiologists, can play an active role in identifying and solving the issues."
Addressing the Opioid Epidemic – Special Issue Presents Essential Evidence
The opioid epidemic has reached crisis proportions. Even though opioid prescriptions have declined in the last few years, the number of opioid-related deaths has remained constant. Drs. Benzon and Anderson cite a report that in 2015 there were nearly 90 opioid overdose deaths each day in the United States—primarily from unprescribed opioids.
Anesthesiologists and pain medicine physicians prescribe the most opioids, followed by surgeons and physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians. Spinal pain and chronic pain are two of the most common diagnoses leading to initial opioid prescription. "These are the patients we see in the pain clinic," Drs. Benzon and Anderson note. "We are the leaders in opioid prescription…and should take the lead in solving the problem."
The special issue includes a series of targeted reviews, assembling current evidence in areas essential to developing solutions to the opioid crisis. The review topics include:
The Guest Editors outline the steps anesthesia and pain medicine clinicians can take to help reduce the opioid epidemic. For surgical patients, steps can include preoperative assessment to identify patients at risk and enhanced recovery protocols to reduce the risk of persistent opioid use after surgery. "As perioperative physicians, we can influence the culture of opioid overprescription."
Drs. Benzon and Anderson believe the special issue will provide a valuable evidence base for developing effective strategies for responding to the opioid crisis. "As the primary drivers in the pain clinic and gatekeepers in the perioperative setting, anesthesiologists should take the lead in identifying solutions to this problem." They add, "Measures necessary to combat nonessential opioid consumption…should be balanced with the legitimate needs of patients in pain."
About Anesthesia & Analgesia
Anesthesia & Analgesia was founded in 1922 and was issued bi-monthly until 1980, when it became a monthly publication. A&A is the leading journal for anesthesia clinicians and researchers and includes more than 500 articles annually in all areas related to anesthesia and analgesia, such as cardiovascular anesthesiology, patient safety, anesthetic pharmacology, and pain management. The journal is published on behalf of the IARS by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (LWW), a division of Wolters Kluwer Health.
About the IARS
The International Anesthesia Research Society is a nonpolitical, not-for-profit medical society founded in 1922 to advance and support scientific research and education related to anesthesia, and to improve patient care through basic research. The IARS contributes nearly $1 million annually to fund anesthesia research; provides a forum for anesthesiology leaders to share information and ideas; maintains a worldwide membership of more than 15,000 physicians, physician residents, and others with doctoral degrees, as well as health professionals in anesthesia related practice; sponsors the SmartTots initiative in partnership with the FDA; supports the resident education initiative OpenAnesthesia; and publishes two journals, Anesthesia & Analgesia and A&A Case Reports.
About Wolters Kluwer
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