It’s Time for Physicians & Patients to Talk More About Opioid Use

In Canada, there is continual concern regarding the negative impact prescribed opioids (i.e. fentanyl, oxycodone, morphine, and codeine) are having on our citizens. Be it through accidental overdoses, or a lack of guidance from physicians, people are losing their lives to prescriptions they expect to aid them.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, more than 2,800 opioid-related deaths occurred in Canada, in 2016.

With action needing to happen, Choosing Wisely Canada has launched Opioid Wisely, a campaign designed “to raise awareness around the importance of clinician-patient conversations to reduce harms associated with opioid prescribing.”

The Opioid Wisely initiative already includes the support of more than 30 organizations that are tied to doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurse, practitioners, plus patients and their families.

Together, Opioid Wisely has developed “a set of 14 specialty-specific recommendations for when it is unsafe to prescribe opioids.”

Seniors - Taking Pills

One example cited is from the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), who noted that patients “should not continue on opioids beyond the immediate period after surgery.”

In case you were wondering, the “immediate period” is generally considered to be three days after surgery, says the CFPC. Sometimes, though rarely, post-op individuals need to stay on opioid-based prescriptions for more than seven days.

“We are seeing devastating consequences for individuals, families and communities as a result of the opioid crisis,” says Wendy Levinson, Chair of Choosing Wisely Canada. “It is a complex health and social issue, with no simple solution. Avoiding opioids in circumstances where safer treatment options are available is certainly part of the solution.”

This appears to be just the first step of the Opioid Wisely campaign, as it’s been explained that “additional recommendations” will be made public in the near future.

Choosing Wisely Canada is a national campaign to help clinicians and patients engage in conversations about unnecessary tests and treatments, and make smart and effective care choices.

-Adam Grant

On a recent episode of “theZoomer,” host Marissa Semkiw was joined at the by a panel of health experts to discuss Canadians’ increasing use of opioids – and the danger this poses. You can watch this episode below.