The Joint Commission proposes new pain standards with emphasis on opioid safety — 3 key changes

The Joint Commission proposed new standards for pain assessment and management in ambulatory settings and office-based surgery settings.

While there are some differences between the proposed changes for the two settings, the new standards for both were designed to make safe opioid prescribing an "organizational priority" and ensure that organizations minimize risks associated with pain treatment.

Comments on the proposals will be accepted until May 22.

Here's what you should know about the proposed changes.

1. The Joint Commission proposed adding LD.04.03.13 to make "pain assessment and pain management, including safe opioid prescribing" a top priority.

This standard would require organizations to:

  • Designate a leader or group to be actively involved in developing standardized practices for prescribing opioids and non-opioids; establishing protocols and quality metrics; and reviewing performance data.
  • Provide educational resources and programs for pain management and safe opioid prescribing, and supply information on referral services for patients with complex cases.
  • Facilitate practitioner and pharmacist access to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program databases.

2. The Joint Commission proposed amending PC.01.02.07 to require organizations to minimize the risks associated with treatment, in addition to assessing and managing the patient's pain.

The adjusted elements of performance would require organizations to:

  • Develop individualized pain treatment plans for patients, with pain treatment strategies including nonpharmacologic, pharmacologic or a combination of approaches.
  • Involve patients in the pain management treatment planning process by "developing realistic expectations and measurable goals."
  • Educate patients and their families on pain management plans, side effects of treatment and safe use and storage of opioids upon discharge.

3. The Joint Commission proposed a new element of performance for the standard PI.02.01.01, which requires organizations and practices to compile and analyze data.

The additional element calls for organizations to monitor "the use of opioid and non-opioid analgesics to determine if they are being prescribed safely."

The proposed standards for office-based surgery settings and ambulatory settings can be found on The Joint Commission's website.

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