Nursing & Healthcare News
Fewer Opioid Prescriptions, More Fentanyl Deaths
Are prescribing restrictions now aiming at the wrong target?
As the CDC prepares new opioid prescribing guidelines, the growing prevalence of fentanyl-related deaths raises questions about the effectiveness of continuing to crack down on prescription opioids.
CDC Guideline Revision
In February, the CDC released a draft of its updated opioid prescribing guideline. When finalized, the revised guideline will replace the controversial 2016 guidelines, which sought to stem the opioid crisis by reducing overprescribing and reigning in the escalation of dosages.
While the CDC intended the 2016 guidelines as recommendations rather than hard-and-fast rules, many areas have formalized those recommendations in law, regulation and organizational policy.
That has significantly reduced opioid prescriptions, but at a cost.
“The 2016 CDC guidelines resulted in major consequences for many who experience pain,” the American Society for Pain Management Nursing (ASPMN) declared in a public comment in April, noting that “the unyielding application of rigid opioid dosing limits” has hurt patients who need opioids “to enable function and an acceptable level of pain relief.”
A recent study also questions one of the underlying assumptions behind the CDC guideline: the correlation between opioid prescriptions and opioid mortality.