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Setting our Targets on Areas of Need in Combating the Opioid Crisis

Fraser Cobbe

Orange County Medical Society

Seminole County Medical Society

The Orange and Seminole County Medical Societies continue to work with multiple stakeholders in identifying solutions to the opioid epidemic that is impacting our region as well as the rest of the nation. The need for broad-based community wide solutions to the crisis is evident given the complexity and severity of the issue. This week brings further evidence that community partners, caregivers, clinicians and researchers are focused on targeting our resources to those specific areas that will bring the most relief.

The Healthy Start Coalition, under the guidance of their Executive Director, Linda Sutherland, hosted an open forum for all stakeholders on August 23rd. The goal was to make sure that the unique needs of pregnant women and their babies are identified within the overall strategy in the community. A great deal of focus surrounded enhanced screening for at-risk mothers, referrals from medical professionals, and expanding treatment options to those mothers most in need of support. It was apparent during the meeting that this community remains blessed to have so many engaged partners working together to address the crisis. What was also crystal clear is much more can be done to enhance screening and expand resources and treatment options for at-risk mothers.

More evidence emerged this week that researchers are zeroing in on common causes of opioid addition. The Los Angeles Times covered a research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Surgery that identified that "the patients who most frequently go on to use opioid medications for six months or more got their first prescription for some sort of back pain, or for pain described in medical code as "other ill-defined conditions."

The authors studied over 115,000 patients insured through the military's Tricare program. The study found that less than 1% of the patients studied that went on to use opioids for six months or more, received their first prescription for opioids after an in-patient encounter or an in-patient procedure. This study is informative as a lot of the public conversation to date has centered around strict limitations on all initial prescriptions of opioids. Yet this research would indicate that such a strict approach for post-acute patients may not be overly beneficial and a more effective strategy may be to continue to target our limited resources on treatment options and education for chronic pain patients and their treating physicians.

You can read the full article here:

Finally, we are extremely pleased to partner in an educational event this Saturday that is free and open to all interested medical professionals in our community. A special thank you is owed to Carol Burkett, the Director of the Orange County Drug Free Coalition, for
securing a line up of great speakers that includes the lead facilitator for the development of the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, Dr. Don Teater. This is a wonderful opportunity for our community to learn from a number of experts in the field. We are proud to partner in this endeavor and would encourage all interested parties to join us for this enlightening program.

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