A panel of experts discuss their key takeaways and the future of treating opioid-induced constipation.
William F. Peacock, MD: I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to talk with you because I’ve learned a ton. Your experience and acknowledge is outstanding. To wrap this up, what would be your take-home messages for health care providers treating opioid-induced constipation?
Conar Fitton, MD: One would be to open the conversation if you see it on their list. I find that being a PCP [primary care physician] these days is the hardest job. The patients are living longer and in and out of the hospital. With the amount of record review, interaction with the charts, and certain care measures, this may be 10th on the list. They may be doing well from a pain relief perspective. We ask that question, but it’s hard when they have a million other medical problems. But it’s a simple question.
Patients oftentimes don’t want to bring it up or talk about it. It’s embarrassing. But it can affect their quality of life. We’re happy to help. I’m happy to see patients and have the longer discussion with them, especially if we can initiate the appropriate-line therapies to start. It’s important to open that conversation and ask them the simple question: “I see you’re on opiates. How are your bowel habits?” If there’s an issue, then start to get them on the right track to treatment, because it’s very efficacious and safe, as we talked about. They don’t have to bear this burden. We can help fix it for them.
Neel Mehta, MD: Yes, the conversation or even the prompt to have that conversation is important. We transitioned to electronic intake forms, and we have smart responses, where if somebody is taking opioids, it starts to ask about all the things related to opioids, including feeling sleepy, being able to function at work, and driving. Constipation came up there, and we were surprised by the number of people who were responding to this. We had never thought to have that discussion. With the time that you have to be able to discuss this, it might be very low on the list. But if you’re able to screen and have the conversation based on that response, it cuts out a lot of time, and thankfully we have some great options to choose from that will make the conversation go quickly and smoothly.
William F. Peacock, MD: Excellent. Thank you once again for participating in Expert Perspectives in the Management of Opioid-Induced Constipation. Thanks for attending.
Neel Mehta, MD: Thank you.
Conar Fitton, MD: Thank you for having us.
Transcript Edited for Clarity