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The New CDC Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain: What Do They Mean for Prisons and Jails?  

Author:  CHC Editors.

Source: Volume 17, Number 03, March/April 2016 , pp.33-34(2)

Correctional Health Care Report

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This article briefly analyzes implications for prisons and jails of the newly released CDC Guidelines for prescribing opioids for pain management. While clinicians in prisons and jails seldom prescribe opioids for pain except in rare cases, the CDC Guidelines are important in establishing new best practices for their use, and because the guidelines are likely to be cited as reasonable and customary practice when prison and jail practices are challenged in court. Chronic pain is a public health concern in the United States, and patients with chronic pain deserve safe and effective pain management. On the other hand, the United States is currently experiencing an epidemic of prescription opioid misuse and overdose. Increased prescribing and sales of opioids—a quadrupling since 1999—helped create and fuel this epidemic. The guideline provides recommendations on the use of opioids in treating chronic pain (that is, pain lasting longer than three months or past the time of normal tissue healing). This new guideline is for primary care providers—who account for prescribing nearly half of all opioid prescriptions—treating adult patients for chronic pain.

Keywords: Opioids; chronic pain; prison formularies; criminal misuse

Affiliations:  1: Civic Research Institute.

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