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Strategies for Increasing Patient Safety with Opioids

January 23, 2020

Acting Secretary of HHS in 2017 declared a public health emergency to address what he called a “national opioid crisis.” It’s easy to see why. The number of people dying from opioid overdoses is increasing1 and the economic burden of prescription opioid misuse alone is estimated at $78.5 billion a year in the U.S.2 Furthermore, due to the increased scrutiny by law enforcement and regulatory agencies and the risk of dependency and overdose there are increased liability risks for physicians related to opioid prescribing.

In this special report, the risk management experts at NORCAL offer recommendations supporting sound pain management principles for mitigating these risks and increasing patient safety with opioids.

The Tragic Toll of Opioid Abuse in America


  • While prescribing rates are declining,3 deaths involving opioids continues to increase.4


  • Careful prescribing and monitoring practices are essential to safely manage patients’ pain and increase defensibility in the event of a claim.

Best Practices

  • Sound pain management and prescribing principles to help increase patient safety.
See more related content under Prescribing & Medication.


Special data request provided by MPL Association Data Sharing Project closed claims database. Copyright 2019, MPL Association. Referenced data indicated in the special report.

1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. “What is the U.S. Opioid Epidemic?” Content last reviewed on September 4, 2019.

2. National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Opioid Crisis.” Last updated January 2019.

3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “U.S. Prescribing Rate Maps.” Last reviewed: October 3, 2018.

4. Holly Hedegaard, et al. “Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2017.” NCHS Data Brief No. 329. National Center for Health Statistics. 2018. Last reviewed: November 29, 2018. (Statistics on age-adjusted drug overdose deaths are taken from or calculated using data from the data tables linked in the article.)

Filed under: Pain Management Specialist, Pain Management, Prescribing & Medication, Special Report, Practice Manager, Physician, Opioids, Patient Care



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