MHA's Task Force Releases Guidance On Opioid Prescribing

MHA’s Substance Use Disorder Prevention and Treatment Task Force (SUDPTTF) has issued new guidelines for prescription opioid management within hospitals hospital settings, including hospital owned/affiliated clinics or physician practices.

This is the second set of guidance materials that the MHA task force has issued to address the commonwealth’s opioid crisis; last year the task force issued opioid management guidelines for emergency departments. The new 19-page standards sent to MHA’s membership on Thursday, June 23 focus on provider-specific practices such as enhanced screening of patients, providing alternative non-opioid options, and developing comprehensive pain stewardship programs.

Some of the recommended guidance relating to hospital/organizational operations relate to closely monitoring opioid prescribing trends, developing internal policies to reduce the potential for opioid diversion, implementing Naloxone standing orders, using a common/template patient fact sheet informing patients of opioid risks, and working with residency and fellowship programs to ensure that the next generation of prescribers are well trained on limiting or finding alternatives to prescription opioids.

The SUDPTTF work group was chaired by Robert J. Roose, M.D., CMO and VP of addiction and recovery services for Sisters of Providence Health System, and John M. Connolly M.D., VP of medical management and chairman, department of anesthesia, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital – Plymouth.

The guidelines were developed taking into account new provider requirements included in the new state opioid law (Chapter 52 of the Acts of 2016), and also integrating industry best practices. The task force also worked with provider associations – in particular the Massachusetts Medical Society – to ensure that the guidance conforms to current standards of practice.

“We’re asking every member hospital to sign a commitment document, agreeing to work with administrators, departments, and staff to identify and provide the resources necessary to implement the guidelines,” said MHA’s VP of Clinical Affairs Pat Noga, R.N.

In addition, the commitment document calls upon hospitals with residency and fellowship programs to adopt core competencies within their medical training programs for direct care specialties that prescribe opioid medications. The core competencies document was developed in coordination with the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

“Hospitals are taking definitive, meaningful steps to combat the opioid crisis,” Noga said. “Every hospital with an ED has signed the commitment to implement our prescribing guidelines. Now we’re expanding the effort with guidance that can be applied to all hospital settings, including many clinics and affiliated physician practices. I believe that with every hospital signing the attached commitment, we will see not only improvements in the health and lives of our patients but the procurement of safer communities.”