In February 2016, AMA President Steven J. Stack, MD called on physicians to take action to confront an unfolding opioid epidemic.
Dr. Stack urged physicians to take five steps:
- Register for and use prescription drug monitoring programs if you prescribe controlled substances.
Find out more about Prescription Review, Washington state’s prescription monitoring program.
- Enhance education and training about safe prescribing.
Updated prescribing guidelines are listed below as well as education and resources on safe prescribing practices.
- Co-prescribe naloxone to patients at risk of overdose.
In 2015, the WSMA helped pass legislation making it easier to obtain the overdose reversal drug in our state. Find more information on naloxone in our opioid abuse and addiction section.
- Get training to provide medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders.
More physicians need to be trained to recognize patients with substance use disorder, and more physicians need to become certified to increase access to treatment. Find more information on medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders in our opioid abuse and addiction section.
- Speak out against stigma.
Patients in pain deserve care and compassion, not judgement. Treating pain is among the most difficult—and most common—reasons patients come to us. As physicians, we are often under pressure to “satisfy a patient’s pain.” Sometimes this requires prescribing an opioid. But caring also means sometimes saying no and recommending an alternative course of treatment—no matter how difficult that may be. Read an editorial on stigma and substance use disorder from the AMA Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse in cooperation with WSMA