HealthApril 11, 2018

Arming patients with the right information for safe opioid management

Patients dealing with chronic pain from an accident, injury, or cancer are often not aware of the potential for long-term addiction that accompanies the pain medications they have been prescribed. They start off taking the pills as directed, but gradually come to feel the dose is no longer effective. They ask their doctor or pharmacist for more pills, or stronger pills, to achieve the level of pain reduction they experienced at first. Without realizing it, they can get hooked.

The CDC recommends that physicians discuss treatment goals and set expectations for pain and function before prescribing opioids. A pain management plan can help patients understand how these drugs work and the precautions that patients and providers are obligated to undertake to ensure their use is appropriate and safe.

Healthcare providers can empower their patients to better manage pain with opioid medications by providing them with interactive programs. These help prepare patients for discussions with their doctors related to pain management, so that they may have a more realistic sense of the benefits, risks, and obligations involved in these drug therapies. From acute to chronic pain, in the hospital or at home, Emmi® programs cover the entire continuum of care for patients. For example:

Pain consultation: Getting ready

  • How your pain may be treated, and by what clinicians
  • How a treatment plan is likely to be structured

Pain management, acute, in hospital: Explaining your pain

  • Suitable for patients in an emergency or urgent situation, and those scheduled for surgery
  • The difference between acute pain and chronic pain
  • How to talk about your pain to clinicians
  • The 1-10 pain scale
  • Pain medication use in the hospital

Pain management: Opioid agreement

  • A document that lays out what you and your doctor can expect
  • Goals of treatment
  • Risks and side effects of taking opioids
  • How refills work: 1 doctor, 1 pharmacy
  • Keeping medications safe at home
  • Setting up a trial period to see if they work
  • Doctor will check a state database
  • Drug tests are likely; don’t take it personally
  • Pill counts to see how many are left in the bottle

For more information, please contact us.

This is part two of a three blog post series on how current evidence-based clinical decision support and patient engagement resources can become key resources in the fight against the abuse of prescription pain killers.


Engage every patient in their journey

Easy-to-use interactive programs, featuring conversational language and relatable examples, help you foster connections and extend your team’s reach beyond healthcare settings.

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