Strategies for Increasing Patient Safety with Opioids

Prescription Opioid Abuse: A Growing National Crisis

Strategies for Increasing Patient Safety with Opioids - Special Report

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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 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.

Concerns

  • While overall prescribing rates declined to a ten-year low in 2016, deaths from opioid overdoses are increasing.¹

Challenges

  • 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.

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Since 1975, NORCAL Mutual Insurance Company has been a policyholder-owned and physician-directed medical professional liability insurance (MPLI) carrier dedicated to ensuring the availability of affordable and relevant coverage. NORCAL provides protection to physicians, health care extenders, medical groups, hospitals, community clinics and allied healthcare professionals across the nation. With its subsidiary companies Medicus Insurance Company, FD Insurance Company, NORCAL Specialty Insurance Company, and its affiliate Preferred Physicians Medical Risk Retention Group, a Mutual Insurance Company, NORCAL Mutual is one of the top ten MPLI carriers in the nation, based on direct written premium.  NORCAL holds an “A” (Excellent) rating by A.M. Best for its financial strength and stability.

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Special Report References

1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. “Opioids: The Prescription Drug & Heroin Overdose Epidemic.” Content last reviewed on October 25, 2017. (accessed 12/11/2017)

2. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. “Opioids: The Prescription Drug & Heroin Overdose Epidemic—About the Epidemic.” Content last reviewed on June 15, 2017. (accessed 12/11/2017)

3. National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Opioid Crisis.” (accessed 12/11/2017)

4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “U.S. Prescribing Rate Maps.” (accessed 12/11/2017)

5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “U.S. State Prescribing Rates, 2016.” (accessed 12/11/2017)

6. PIAA. “Managing Opioids: Prescribing Practices and Claims” (PDF). Research Notes, September 2017. (accessed 12/11/2017)