Much of the focus of Canada’s opioid crisis is on the increasing number of deaths and hospitalizations caused by illicit Fentanyl overdoses. While the rising availability of Fentanyl is a major contributor, it’s important to acknowledge the role that prescription opioids also play in this major health issue.
Evidence suggests that many who overdose on opioids have at one time in their lives received a prescription for an opioid painkiller. In fact, one in five patients prescribed an opioid to treat a medical condition or chronic pain will become a long-term user in just ten days.
New Canadian guidelines for opioid prescriptions
Canadians are the second highest users per capita of opioids in the world. The rates of opioid prescribing, and opioid-related hospital visits and deaths have also been increasing rapidly.
In 2017, these unsettling truths prompted the development of new national prescribing guidelines for physicians, which were published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). The revised guidelines recommend a reduction in the daily prescribed dosing from 200 morphine equivalents (MEQs) to less than 90 MEQs.
EMR tools support physicians in treating patients using opioids
Physicians who use a TELUS Health EMR have access to valuable tools and resources to support them in the care of patients who use prescription opioids.
The Opioid Toolkit integrates seamlessly with a PS Suite EMR to help physicians monitor patient opioid use and safely taper doses. Aligned with national prescribing guidelines, it includes:
- Clear MEQs for each patient
- Complete and up-to-date patient screening and monitoring of tests
- Assessment tools, such as the opioid risk tool and mental health screening tools
- Appropriate tapering schedules for different opioid medications
- Individualized patient trends in MEQs over time to support progress monitoring
Moreover, Med Access and Wolf EMR users can benefit from a chronic disease management template, developed in partnership with Doctors of BC. The template includes resources and tools such as an opioid risk tool, opioid manager, switch tool and standard opioid agreement letter to enable physicians to easily assess the patient’s pain, create a plan and monitor progress.
These helpful opioid tools are complimentary for TELUS Health EMR users and training is available. For more information, contact us.