The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) recently issued guidelines for hospital emergency rooms throughout the state to follow when prescribing opioid painkillers.
were established by a special task force authorized by Governor Tom Corbett. The guidelines include limiting discharge prescriptions to the amount needed until follow-up, typically not to exceed seven days; choosing the lowest potency opioid necessary to relieve the patient’s pain; and checking the state’s controlled substances database once one is developed.
Painkiller prescribing varies greatly from state to state
“The task force is doing a tremendous job identifying solutions to combat the escalating prescription opioid abuse epidemic in Pennsylvania,” DDAP Secretary Gary Tennis said. “These guidelines will cut down on the number of prescription drugs inappropriately being prescribed to individuals and will reduce over-utilization of emergency rooms for pain relief.”
The stated goal of the guidelines is to “recommend appropriate treatment to relieve pain and to identify individuals who may be abusing or are addicted to prescription opioid drugs so that they can be referred to treatment.”
“These guidelines are the next steps in fighting prescription drug abuse in Pennsylvania. Let’s not stop there,” said Dr. Ted Christopher, a member of the Pennsylvania Medical Society and Philadelphia County Medical Society. “More work can be done and needs to be done in our battle against misuse and abuse of prescription drugs.”