Prescribing For Pain – Staying Out of Trouble

One of, if not the biggest, hot-button issues in the practice of medicine right now is the prescribing of controlled substances, and particularly opioid pain medications.  The significant increase in the use and abuse of narcotic pain medication is well documented throughout the media and in medical literature.  Physicians who practice in this area, even those who meet or exceed the standard of care are frequently subjected to investigations and complaints by Colorado’s DORA health care boards (i.e., Colorado Medical Board and Colorado Nursing Board).    

Until recently, the Colorado Medical Board had in place a policy addressing the standards for pain management which offered some guidance for pain management doctors.  On August 15, 2013, the Board repealed its policy and did not replace it.  The Board’s website merely indicates that former policy 10-14 is “no longer consistent with the current standards and practices of pain and symptom management.”

Although the Board now offers no “official” guidance on these issues.  The Colorado Medical Board’s website directs practitioners to the Federation of State Medical Boards publication, “Responsible Opioid Prescribing:  A Clinician’s Guide,” which is available from the FSMB here.  The CMB also recommends that physicians consider a CME developed by the FSMB with Boston University called “Safe and Competent Opioid Prescribing Education (SCOPE) of Pain.”  The program, is a free online education seminar available at   Doctors and other health care providers, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners and others, who practice pain management should also review, understand and follow the FSMB’s “Model Policy on the Use of Opioid Analgesics in the Treatment of Chronic Pain,” which is available here:  Model Opioid Policy. 

There is no assurance that following the protocols recommended by the FSMB will prevent Board investigations.  However, learning, understanding and adhering to the Model Policy, the Clinician’s Guide and Scope of Pain recommendations may serve to minimize the potential for complaints and discipline.

For more information contact Steve Kabler at Miller Kabler, P.C. – 720-306-7537