Friday, December 30, 2016

Count Down 2016 – CDC Opioid Prescribing Guidelines and Chronic Pain

2016 has provided many changes in the way pain is perceived, judged, and treated. Unfortunately, some changes have had dire consequences for those living with chronic pain.

The CDC Opioid Prescribing Guidelines

There is little doubt that the CDC opioid prescribing guidelines for primary physicians have affected Americans living with chronic pain.

As suspected by advocates, the CDC's opioid prescribing “guidelines” have been perceived by many as a CDC policy, when they are NOT. 

 “Policy’ is defined as a law, regulation, procedure, administrative action, incentive, or voluntary practice of governments and other institutions.”

In a Medscape article, New CDC Opioid Guideline: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, Charles E. Argoff, MD dissects the CDC Opioid Prescribing Guidelines, asking many questions that would have been posed during the development of a CDC policy, had there been one. As Dr. Argoff suggests, there are some very good things about the guidelines. But, other important deliberations were not included. It is my opinion that the CDC made a grave error when they ignored their own policy process, which requires rigorous investigation, planning and implementation on public health issues.

Why does it matter?

There are drastic differences between a policy and a guideline. Look at the wording for the “Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain Workgroup (Opioid Guideline Workgroup)”, of which some people had an undisclosed conflict of interest. These folks had the liberty to handpick “evidence” to prove their own opinion, ignore concerns brought up by other workgroup members, and publish them without advanced notice for public comment, an action that left many to distrust the CDC and their agenda. Advocacy groups pushed back until the CDC reopened a comment period, but it became evident it was an exercise that would have no effect on the guidelines; they continued to  ignore the voices of all the people. 

So, we are left wondering why the CDC, a government agency that focuses on public health, wouldn't  follow their own policy development protocol and include all stakeholders. 

I doubt the CDC set out to harm so many, but their guidelines have. I hear the cries of abandoned patients kicked to the curb to suffer withdrawal without help. And, others who are being weaned only to have their pain return to catastrophic levels, because physicians have suddenly done an about face. I have read the stories of family members raising their voices to let people know their loved one took their own life because these guidelines have led to the denial of access to moral and ethical care. If you or someone you know has been harmed, please see  HELP - Guidelines for Pain Warriors.

Look Forward

Leaving 2016 in our review mirror, let’s look toward 2017 with hope. The guidelines have been met with great scrutiny. There is opportunity in adversity. I am grateful for Dr. Argoff and many other physicians and advocacy groups who speak up for patients and their care. 

In healing,,Celeste

Other reading you may find helpful:

"Adversity is only an obstacle if we fail to see opportunity."

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

Celeste Cooper, RN
Author—Patient—Freelance Writer at Health Central & ProHealth Advocate

Celeste’s Website:

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All answers and blogs are based on the author's opinions and writing and are not meant to replace medical advice.  


Unknown said...

Great post Celeste! I've read the entire CDC guidelines and quite a bit of it reads like it was written by someone with a definite hidden agenda. It's not all that way but unfortunately a lot of it is bad for the chronic pain sufferer.

The Pained Ink Slayer said...

Thank you Rebekah. We keep plowing forward together.

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