AMA Pain Management Program Aims to Strike a Balance

The American Medical Association (AMA) has announced a new pain management continuing medical education (CME) program that attempts to strike a balance between appropriate pain management and prevention of prescription drug abuse.

The AMA has offered a comprehensive pain management education program since 2003. The topics in this new series remain the same, but the modules were updated to varying degrees to reflect new information on the assessment and management of pain, according to Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD, AMA immediate past president.

"The impetus behind the revision is the need to have a balanced approach to pain management given the findings of the Institute of Medicine Report (Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research, released in 2011) on the unmet needs of people in American suffering from chronic pain, the disturbing trends in the nonmedical use of opioid analgesics, unintentional opioid overdoses and deaths, as well as the intersection of opioids with chronic pain and substance use disorders," said Dr. Lazarus.

"Revisions to this educational program will help physicians maintain an understanding of appropriate pain management and ensure legitimate patients get the treatment they need while helping to prevent prescription drug abuse and diversion."

The series is composed of 12 modules addressing clinically important aspects of pain management, including pain mechanisms and assessment, an overview of management options, and the management of cancer and persistent noncancer pain, including neuropathic pain. Some modules focus on specific populations, disorders, or conditions.

The program explains the "universal precautions" approach to the clinical use of opioid analgesics and the need to appropriately structure therapy and manage the risks associated with these substances, said Dr. Lazarus.

Dr. Lazarus stressed the need for multifaceted solutions to the drug abuse problem that must also ensure patients in pain get the help they need.

Multipronged Approach

"The AMA has advocated for a multipronged, coordinated strategy to combat drug abuse and diversion that includes a public health focus, positive incentives to promote physician education and public awareness, useful tools that physicians can use at the point-of-care to support medical decision-making, proper storage and disposal of controlled substances, increasing access to addiction treatment and recovery and appropriate enforcement to halt 'pill mill' activities," he said.

The program is aimed at primary care physicians who treat patients with pain conditions, said Dr. Lazarus.

"Physicians can choose the modules in the program that are most applicable to them to tailor the educational experience to the needs of their patients and their practice," he said.

For the program, the Prescribers' Clinical Support System for Opioid Therapies provided a three-year grant, which came from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

This is a collaborative project led by the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry with the American Dental Association, AMA, American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine, American Psychiatric Association, American Society for Pain Management Nursing, and International Nurses Society on Addictions.

These organizations provide training and education on the safe and effective prescribing of opioid medications in the treatment of pain and/or opioid addiction, said Dr. Lazarus.

According to the IOM report, chronic pain affects about 100 million American adults — more than the total affected by heart disease, cancer, and diabetes combined. Pain also costs the United States up to $635 billion each year in medical treatment and lost productivity.

The AMA's updated education series has been certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™. Physicians can register to obtain credit for each of the 12 modules in the program.

To access the program for free, visit Physicians interested in earning CME credit must also register and pay a $6 fee.

Pauline Anderson • Medscape Medical News © 2013 WebMD, LLC

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