GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A state commission has released new recommendations on how – or if – doctors and dentists should prescribe opioids for patients after surgery, serious injury or a major dental procedure.
The step-by-step guidelines, issued Friday by the state’s Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Commission, are only recommendations, meaning doctors still have the final say on how best to manage a patient’s postoperative pain.
“Ultimately, the medical doctor or the clinician should be able to use these as a tool and then make the best, informed decision that they need to treat that patient properly,” said Kim Gaedeke, Acting Deputy Director of Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
Among the recommendations, health care providers are urged to consider non-drug alternatives first, like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, elevation, physical therapy, icing or splinting.
During surgery, the guidelines recommend nerve blocks, local anesthetic catheters or epidurals.
Physicians and dentists are urged not to prescribe long-acting opioids like Fentanyl, Methadone, and OxyContin to patients whose bodies are not accustomed to them.
As for short-acting opioids, for example Hydrocodone and Oxycodone, the guidelines urge physicians and dentists to prescribe no more than three to five days’ worth at a time.
The commission that authored the recommendations was created by an executive order from Gov. Rick Snyder and consisted of health professionals, law enforcement officers, substance abuse treatment providers, government officials and citizens.
“The recommendations are intended to provide alternatives to opioids and controlled substances for the treatment of acute pain,” said Judge Linda Davis in a release, chair of the PDOAC and founder of Families Against Narcotics. “The recommendations are a result of collaboration between multiple stakeholders working relentlessly to combat the opioid epidemic in Michigan.”