ARLINGTON, Va., September 27, 2018 — Allied Against Opioid Abuse (AAOA), with a team of physicians at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, released a new educational video to help patients prepare for and manage post-surgery pain. AAOA, a national education and awareness initiative to help combat the nation’s prescription opioid epidemic; and Johns Hopkins, which has developed post-surgical guidelines for prescribing opioids to patients at discharge, share a mission of helping to prevent opioid abuse and misuse.
To address the significant gap in patient education, the video, “Managing Pain After Surgery: What You Need to Know,” underscores that pain is a normal part of the healing process. Johns Hopkins physicians, led by Marty Makary, MD, MPH, discuss the expectations of post-operation pain, provide tips for managing pain without prescription opioids to a functional level and recommend patients talk with their doctor before and after surgery.
“Educating patients and setting expectations about surgical pain is an important component of a comprehensive opioid strategy.” said Dr. Makary. “Pain after surgery is normal and should be expected. As patients begin the healing process after an operation, it is important to utilize non-opioid alternatives when appropriate, as well as know the risks of using opioids if needed.”
Recent studies highlight the need for enhanced healthcare provider and patient discussions about pain management and prescription opioid safety. A study by Johns Hopkins found that 67 to 92 percent of patients who were prescribed opioids after surgery had leftover pills while the majority of patients (73 to 77 percent) reported that they improperly stored their opioid medication. In a national poll from Morning Consult commissioned by AAOA, more than 80 percent of respondents believed more dialogue between patients and their healthcare providers around the safe use of opioids could help address the opioid crisis.
As highlighted in the video, patients who are prescribed opioids as part of a pain management treatment should understand the rights, risks and responsibilities associated with these medicines. Every patient in need of pain relief has the right to know the full scope of their treatment options available to them, including non-opioids and alternative treatments like exercise, meditation and physical therapy. As part of their pain management plan, patients should discuss when it is appropriate to transition from prescription opioids to over-the-counter medication after surgery.
When prescribed an opioid treatment, the patient also should talk to their doctor about the potential risks these medicines carry, including physical dependence, addiction and overdose. Additionally, when bringing an opioid medication into the home, patients bear the responsibility to store the medicine safely and to promptly dispose of any unused portion, which can help prevent the pills from ending up in the wrong hands.
“When preparing patients for surgery, it is important to explain that postoperative pain is a natural part of the healing process, and that the purpose of pain medication is not to eliminate pain, but to make it tolerable,” said James Millward PA-C, Cardiothoracic Surgery Physician Assistant (PA) and Trustee in the PA Foundation, a member of AAOA. “As healthcare providers, we must help patients understand what to expect, discuss treatment options for managing pain and explain the risks associated with prolonged opioid use.”
The video also features a patient who describes her experience undergoing knee surgery and how she handled the soreness and pain following the operation. By having a conversation with the surgeon before the procedure, patients will have a better idea of the kind of pain they will experience after surgery and can develop a pain management plan that may include prescription opioids or non-opioids such as over-the-counter medications and alternative pain treatments.
AAOA has developed a full suite of online materials that educates patients, providers, pharmacists and the public about the rights, risks and responsibilities associated with prescription opioids, which includes the safe use, storage and disposal of these medicines. AAOA is working with the PA Foundation on Pledge to Pause, an initiative that engages PA students through a pledge to educate patients when prescribing opioid medications. More information about AAOA’s activities and resources is available at www.AgainstOpioidAbuse.org/Act.
The Center for Opioid Research and Education (CORE) was created to raise awareness about the national trend of overprescribing opioids after surgery. Through CORE, Johns Hopkins physicians have developed best practices for outpatient opioid prescribing for common medical and dental procedures and are working to raise awareness about pain expectations as part of the post-surgery healing process. To learn more about CORE and its efforts to educate clinicians and patients about the opioid abuse crisis, visit www.SolvetheCrisis.org/Guidelines.
For all press inquiries, please contact Press@AgainstOpioidAbuse.org.
About Allied Against Opioid Abuse
Allied Against Opioid Abuse is a national education and awareness initiative to help prevent abuse and misuse of prescription opioids. Founded by the Healthcare Distribution Alliance, the initiative is a collaborative effort with diverse partners across the pharmaceutical supply chain, as well as organizations that are experts in public health and healthcare, including Alliance for Aging Research, American Physical Therapy Association, BeMedWise, Caregiver Action Network, Gerontological Society of America, Healthcare Leadership Council, Men’s Health Network, Mental Health America, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities, National Community Pharmacists Association and the PA Foundation. Our goal is to contribute to solving the opioid crisis in a meaningful way by educating patients about their rights, risks and responsibilities. To learn more, visit www.AgainstOpioidAbuse.org or follow us on Twitter: @AAOA_Tweets.
CORE is a consortium of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and patients dedicated to educating clinicians and empowering patients. We are using an established physician benchmarking program to address opioid over-prescribing after surgery on a national level while simultaneously developing free educational resources for patients.