AMA Wire

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

This Week's News

CME program helps physicians manage pain, prevent prescription drug abuse

CME program helps physicians manage pain, prevent prescription drug abuse

A newly updated education program from the AMA can help physicians strike an appropriate balance between managing patients' chronic pain and preventing abuse and diversion of prescription painkillers.

This updated continuing medical education (CME) series is a comprehensive educational resource comprised of 12 modules that address numerous clinically important aspects of pain management, from assessment to structuring therapy and managing risks.

"Maintaining an understanding of appropriate pain management can better help physicians ensure legitimate patients get the pain relief they need while helping to prevent prescription drug abuse and diversion," AMA Immediate-past President Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD, said in a news release.

While the United States faces a serious public health problem from the misuse, abuse, addiction and unintentional poisonings related to prescription opioids, a great deal of human pain and suffering also remains inadequately treated.

According to a 2011 report by the Institute of Medicine, 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Although some of these chronic pain sufferers benefit from prescription opioids on a long-term basis, many others do not and many instead suffer harm. A multidisciplinary approach often is needed to manage these patients.

The AMA modules cover such topics as pain mechanisms and assessment, management options for cancer patients and patients with other persistent pain, the universal-precautions approach to the clinical use of opioid analgesics, and the need to structure therapy appropriately and manage the risks associated with these substances. Several modules focus on specific populations, disorders and conditions.

"Over the past decade, the AMA has offered pain management training to prescribers, and this updated educational program will help physicians better develop the skills needed to evaluate and manage patients with persistent pain," Dr. Lazarus said.

Since first releasing this online program in 2003, the AMA has issued approximately 155,000 CME certificates for the online version and 65,000 for the print version. About 26,000 nonphysician health care professionals also completed the program.

Physicians can complete the entire program or select modules that address the specific needs of their practices and patients. This activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

The program update was made possible by support from the Prescribers' Clinical Support System for Opioid Therapies (PCSS-O), a collaborative project funded by a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. The PCSS-O is led by the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry and includes the AMA, the American Dental Association, the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Society for Pain Management Nursing and the International Nurses Society on Addictions.

The AMA offers other educational resources to help physicians address prescription drug abuse and diversion, including three archived webinars on topics related to responsible opioid prescribing. Additional webinars will be held over the next two years.

Visit the AMA's Web page on prescription drug abuse and diversion to learn more about the AMA's efforts to combat this growing national problem.