by Barbara Nelson, PhD, Guest Columnist – Published by PAIN News Network
A little over a year ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its “Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.” Its goal is to help reduce the raging and heartbreaking overdose epidemic in the U.S.
Unexpectedly, the guideline has exposed the extraordinary need for palliative care for millions of patients who may live for decades with intractable pain. These patients now face enormous obstacles getting medically-needed opioids for effective pain control, especially when the dose exceeds the highest recommendation made in the guideline of 90 morphine milligram equivalents (MME) per day.
This unbending recommendation is too low to provide pain control that will keep many intractable pain patients out of agony. In the last year, untold numbers of chronic pain patients requiring palliative care lost the correct opioid dose for their diseases — making work, self-care, and family interactions harder or impossible.