The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released proposed voluntary guidelines on prescribing opioids for chronic pain (Guidelines), which were developed in response to the growing public health concern of opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. Among other recommendations, the Guidelines suggest considering alternative pain management therapies whenever possible and requiring urine testing to check whether patients are taking their prescribed medications. CDC issued a fact sheet on the Guidelines.
Some in the medical community have raised concern that, even though the Guidelines are described as voluntary, their issuance by the CDC could be construed as establishing a national standard of care and creating possible liability exposure for non-compliance. The CDC has invited review and comments on the Guidelines but in the meantime, primary care providers who treat patients for chronic pain should become familiar with the CDCs recommendations on opioid prescribing.