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Federal task force issues guidance on pain management practices

The federal government has cracked down on prescription violations. Agencies have investigated and mounted successful prosecutions against physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other medical professionals who were allegedly in violation of laws that guide prescription practices.

The government put together a task force to help better guide those who provide pain management care. The group, the federal Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force, recently announced a the release of a report to update best practices for pain management.

Proposed changes include:

  • Medication management. The report has a two-pronged take on medication management. First, it encouraged medical professionals to consider various medications to treat a patient’s pain, not must opioids. Second, it encourages medical facilities to better ensure the safe storage and disposal of excess medications.
  • Patient focused care. The report includes a call for patient-centric care. It encourages physicians to use a multidisciplinary approach when treating patients to help better manage their pain.
  • Individualized care plans. It also encourages physicians to avoid a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Instead of relying on methods that have worked for the physician on other patients in the past, the agency encourages medical professionals to provide patients an individualized treatment plan.
  • Increased coverage. The agency also calls for insurance companies to expand coverage to provide better coverage for non-opioid options.

When will the changes go into effect? The agency states the report should be finalized by the end of May. Once finalized, the changes will go into effect.

What happens if a physician or medical professional does not follow the changes? The proposed are best practices, not law. As such, a violation should not result in sanctions. However, the proposal may be used to support new laws and regulations in the future.