ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) – New Minnesota guidelines announced Friday are aimed to curb the opioid epidemic and change how physicians are writing prescriptions. These new guidelines have been in the works for 18 months by a group of physicians on both sides of the aisle.
“What I am really excited about today is the rubber is finally hitting the road on this,” said Representative Dave Baker.
Part of the opioid prescribing work group are two state lawmakers, Rep. Baker and Senator Chris Eaton, who both have lost children to opioid overdoses. Their goal is to curb the number of opioids being prescribed across the state. Latest statistics from the CDC show 47 opioid scripts are written for every 100 Minnesotans.
“Our goal is not to punish doctors or those who rely on opioids to treat chronic pain,” said DHS Commissioner Emily Piper. “Rather we aim to change the conversations with the healthcare community and patients.”
The new guidelines include:
1.) prescribing the lowest effective dose and duration of opioids when used for acute pain.
2.) monitoring the patients closely, including prescribing opioids in multiples of seven days.
3.) avoid initiating chronic opioid therapy, make it so long term prescriptions would include face-to-face visits with the provider at least every three months.
“To our patients already on these pain medications, we are not abandoning you,” said Dr. Chris Johnson leading the group.
Johnson emphasized the focus will be on educating and guiding physicians, patients and their families. Minnesota is currently the fifth lowest state in the country when it comes to prescribing opioids, but everyone involved in this effort points out doing better is vital.
“One opioid prescription can start the downward spiral in the right person,” said Dr. Rahul Koranne, Chief Medical Officer for the Minnesota Hospital Association.
This announcement kicks off a 30-day public comment period. A month from now, prescribers violating these guidelines could be held accountable.
“We have many prescripts who serve patients on Medicaid,” said Piper. “If they don’t follow the guidelines, they don’t follow what we recommend, we could dis-enroll them and they could no longer serve Medicaid patients.”