NQF Issues Guidance to Support Safer Opioid Prescribing

March 8, 2018
The National Quality Forum (NQF) released guidance to support safe and appropriate opioid prescribing to manage patients’ pain.

The National Quality Forum (NQF) released guidance to support safe and appropriate opioid prescribing to manage patients’ pain. The guide, National Quality Partners Playbook: Opioid Stewardship, provides strategies for healthcare organizations and clinicians across practice settings and specialties of care.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 46 Americans die each day from a prescription opioid-related overdose—a more than four-fold increase since 1999.

“The NQP Playbook provides a plan to help address the nation’s devastating opioid epidemic,” Shantanu Agrawal, M.D., president and CEO, National Quality Forum, said in a statement. “It is a critically important resource for our nation’s frontline clinicians to use as they consider pain management strategies with patients.”

“This work will help the medical community start to shift direction in terms of the ways well-intended pain treatments affect our patients, families, clinicians and communities,” Paul Conlon, PharmD, senior vice president, chief quality and patient safety, Trinity Health, and co-chair of the NQP Opioid Stewardship Action Team, said. “It is an important step that will help us establish urgency around developing a comprehensive program for better pain treatment—one that will lead to sustainable approaches to preventing and mitigating against our current national substance abuse emergency.”

The NQP Playbook identifies fundamental actions to support opioid stewardship, including advancing clinical knowledge, expertise, and practice in pain management and opioid prescribing guidelines; engaging patients and family caregivers in discussions about the risks and benefits of pain management strategies, especially the use of opioids;  tracking, monitoring, and reporting performance data on opioid stewardship and pain management; establishing accountability for promoting, establishing, and maintaining a culture of opioid stewardship; and, supporting community collaboration to achieve maximum impact.

The guide includes concrete examples and tactics for implementation, identifies barriers and corresponding solutions, and connects clinicians to important tools and resources that are applicable across care settings. NQF developed the NQP Playbook with input from the NQP Opioid Stewardship Action Team, whose members served as technical consultants and contributors. The more than 40 public- and private-sector experts and national stakeholders who served on the Action Team include patient partners, clinicians, healthcare organizations, pharmacists, pain management experts, community-based organizations, and federal agencies.

The NQP Playbook: Opioid Stewardship will be available for download on March 12, 2018. A summary of the guide is available on NQF's website. NQF will host a public webinar on opioid stewardship on March 29.

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