There are many questions and concerns to address with your patients who are living with pain at each appointment. But how often does the topic of preparing for an emergency related to their opioid medications come up? On average, 44 people in the United States die each day from prescription opioid pain medication, and more than 80 percent of those deaths are unintentional. Although management of side effects is a part of ongoing opioid therapy, related patient discussion and intervention is largely focused on recognizing and managing the potential for abuse and misuse. There is a need to extend this discussion further to address the safe use of prescription opioids, as they carry risks for life-threatening respiratory depression even when taken as directed.
Do your patients have the most recent information about the safety precautions to be aware of when taking prescription opioids? Have you shared suggestions for how they can best prepare for an opioid emergency, such as an accidental overdose? Use the Discussion Guide (below) to assist you in your conversations with your patients.