A Bridge to Nowhere? Challenging Outpatient Transitions of Care for Acute Pain Patients in the Opioid Epidemic Era

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Abstract

Opioid misuse is reducing Americans' life expectancy, thereby catalyzing professional societies and legislators to action. Efforts to combat the opioid epidemic must work hand-in-hand with appropriate efforts to reduce the severity and duration of suffering. Pharmacologic analgesia is temporizing. Current opioid prescribing guidelines focus on reducing the frequency and quantity of narcotics prescribed, but lack attention to alleviation of the source of pain. Conditions eliciting acute pain sometimes require additional specialist management following discharge from the emergency department. Patients frequently lack timely access to these specialists, particularly if underinsured. This essay explores acute dental pain, extremity fractures, and back pain as three common examples whereby complex healthcare systems must efficiently adapt in order to serve the dual objectives of reducing the risk of opioid-related adverse consequences and minimizing the duration of patient suffering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-246
Number of pages6
JournalMissouri Medicine
Volume115
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2018

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