WATCH: New data suggests Alberta opioid crisis is worsening
EDMONTON – The Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons has laid out new rules for prescribing opioids.
Starting April 1, physicians will have to justify their prescribing decisions based on documented patient assessments.
The college says doctors must also be cautious about putting patients on opioids and must discuss with them the pros and cons of the medication, as well as other treatment options.
“When prescribing those types of drugs, physicians must do a few things: they must check the patient’s medication history in pain or neck care or some other source of information – not the patient. They have to be able to justify their prescribing decision if it’s over the recommended amounts by the US Centre for Disease Control and then they need to be very cautious in starting patients on these type of drugs,” Eby said on the Alberta Morning News.
“We do not want them to cut off patients abruptly. That can be very dangerous and very challenging for both the physician and the patient, but to work with them to taper when possible. And certainly high amounts of opioid prescribing can be completely legitimate and appropriate, but when it’s above the sort of recognized recommendation then there needs to be very good charting and assessment.”
The college is also requiring that doctors check an independent source for a patient’s medical history and only prescribe a minimal dosage in the meantime.
Eby said the CPSA carried out a consultation process to figure out the new plan’s direction.
“We had about 100 physicians – individual physicians – provide feedback, but we also had feedback from groups like the Alberta Medical Association, Alberta Health Services, the Health Quality Council of a Alberta, certainly all of which have some sort of physician representation, but we also got feedback from individual patients, special interest groups that are specifically interested in pain and pain management.”
Registrar Dr. Trevor Theman says opioids pose a significant health risk and doctors need to ensure they are prescribing responsibly.
(With files from Daniel Stilwell)