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New Joint Commission Pain Management Guidelines Designed to Combat Opioid Crisis

September 06, 2017

In response to the opioid crisis, the Joint Commission—one of the nation’s largest health care accreditation organizations—has released new pain assessment and management standards, effective January 1. The commission accredits and certifies the majority of hospitals and health systems in Pennsylvania, where the opioid crisis has hit especially hard.
The new standards require hospitals seeking accreditation to develop pain treatment plans for patients and to monitor patients identified as high risk for adverse outcomes related to opioid treatment. Hospitals must:

  • Prioritize pain assessment and management
  • Minimize the risks associated with pain treatment
  • Collect, compile, and analyze data to monitor performance
  • Actively involve clinical leaders to improve care, treatment, and services

The standards are explained in a report that provides in-depth rationale, references, and evidence for the changes, including requirements that hospitals:

  • Provide nonpharmacological pain treatment methods such as relaxation and cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Facilitate practitioner and pharmacist access to prescription drug monitoring programs and databases

In Pennsylvania Last year, more than 4,600 people lost their lives to opioid-related overdoses, an increase of 37 percent from 2015.

With support from HAP, Pennsylvania hospitals are already using the state’s prescription drug monitoring database to monitor patients’ prescription pain killer usage. Through HAP's quality initiatives, hospitals are working on safe prescribing guidelines to ensure proper dosing and to eliminate dangerous drug interactions. 

For more information, please contact HAP’s Michael J. Consuelos, MD, senior vice president, clinical integration.

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