Mitigating the Opioid Crisis for Wound Care Providers Using Opioid Stewardship

Robert George Smith, DPM, MSc, RPh


Wounds. 2020;32(6):146-151. 

In This Article

E: Education

"E" stands for education to multidisciplinary medical professionals, patients, and patient caregivers. It is paramount that an open dialog be fostered so that expectations of opioid therapy can be appreciated by all parties.[5–9] Furthermore, it is important for patients to understand that the goal of postoperative pain management, as asserted by Varley and Zuckerbraum,[10] is not to be pain-free but to make the pain manageable in the context of a patient's daily activities during their recovery. Opioid stewardship programs promote and enhance patient and family caregiver education and engagement. One tool that can assist in enhancing patient education is control substance agreements since such agreements promote communication between patients and providers, thereby creating an open and honest dialog revealing each individual's expectations of a treatment plan. Multiple ways for reducing opioid abuse are available and strongly supported by health care providers, patients, policymakers, and other key stakeholders. These include educational endeavors centered on the risks of prescription opioids and other medications if not taken as prescribed as well as steps to ensure safe storage and disposal of expired, unwanted, or unused medications. Wound care clinicians should remind patients that medications should be stored out of the reach of children and in a safe place, preferably locked, to prevent other family members and visitors from taking them. A final educational initiative is to allow for empowering patients with information centered on the preferred options to dispose of unwanted or unused opioid pills, medicated liquids, or other medications by utilizing a local take-back or mail-back program, or medication drop box at a police station, Drug Enforcement Administration-authorized collection site, or pharmacy (if the pharmacy has a secure drop-box program).