It is going to be a whole lot harder to get opioids for short term pain from injuries or surgery, if new guidelines are implemented as the result of recommendations from a task force assembled by the office of Governor John Kasich.
Alternatives to prescription painkillers will be given whenever possible and provided only the minimum amounts if absolutely needed, according guidelines announced by Kasich’s office on Tuesday.
“I think we’re on the right track,” Scioto County Health Commissioner Dr. Aaron Adams, a member of that task force, told the Daily Times. “These are guidelines. These are not strict new law regulations that providers need to follow. What I think we really needed to do was maybe go back and see what the problem was with prescription drugs. In the past, too many people were started off with opiates, particularly the Hydrocodones and Oxycodones, which we found out with Oxycontin were much worse.”
Adams said he believes early on, those who prescribed painkillers most likely didn’t have the plan well-thought-out and didn’t have a timetable in which to evaluate patients.
“They really didn’t have criteria that was shared with the medical community as to what acute pain would be, what the duration of acute pain would be,” Adams said. “For example, a six week duration, which is what this group has determined.”
Alternatives to opioids could include nsaids and other across-the-counter pain relievers as well as ice, heat, wraps, stretching, massage therapy, acupuncture, seeing a chiropractor or physical therapy.
“In most cases, opioids should be used as adjuncts to additional therapies, rather than used alone,” Dr. Mary DiOrio, medical director for the state Department of Health, said.
Ohio previously set guidelines to reduce the prescribing of painkillers in emergency rooms and for closer monitoring of prescriptions for people suffering chronic pain, such as cancer patients. Dr. Michael Kelley, senior medical director for ambulatory services for OhioHealth, said the guidelines will help restore balance to a treatment system under which doctors were once afraid to prescribe painkillers for fear of addictions.
“We really tried to break it down and have you start treatment and use things like the nsaids like Aleve, Advil, Ibuprofen. Use muscle relaxers, things like Celebrex and steroids and Tylenol,” Adams said. “use physical therapy, Chiropractic, massage, a lot of different types of activities to give the patient back to their functional capacity.”
According to an Associated Press story, last week, Ohio lawmakers backed by Attorney General Mike DeWine backed a related federal effort to curb the prescribing of painkillers.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.