Managing Chronic Pain: Practical Considerations to Improve Treatment Outcomes - Episode 6

Overcoming Opiophobia to Appropriately Prescribe Opioids

In this video, expert panelist Joseph Pergolizzi, MD, explains how physicians can conquer their fear of prescribing opioid medications to chronic pain patients.

“One way to overcome opiophobia and to get appropriate opioid prescribing, I believe, is to … have good documentation,” Pergolizzi says. “If you’re documenting and you’re verifying that these patients are appropriate for this type of therapy, then I think you’re going to be in a lot better position in the event that you’re ever called to question about your decision.”

Pergolizzi also recommends helping patients get involved in their own chronic pain treatments and opioid risk management plans by sending them up-to-date information from valid sources like the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and encouraging them to join appropriate advocacy and support groups.

“If they own their pain, that’s important, and I’ll document that in my chart just as much I’ll document whether or not they still should be on opioids,” Pergolizzi says.

In addition to patient involvement, Pergolizzi documents every treatment option attempted prior to the use of opioids.

“The truth is, when you look at patients going to chronic pain centers, these patients have failed back surgery 3 times (and) they’ve tried stimulators. They really tried everything, and there’s not a lot of other options that you have except opioids,” Pergolizzi explains. “So, you need to document that and you need to have that clearly stated in your plan.”