Safe pain medication prescribing in emergency departments

In an effort to reduce death and addiction due to prescription drug abuse, a set of guidelines and other resources for emergency departments to use have been released.These guidelines are a collection of recommendations developed by the San Diego County Medical Society (SDCMS) Prescription Drug Abuse Medical Task Force, a group that includes representatives from Imperial County as well. They draw on published medical literature and the experience of various groups across the country.These are guidelines, not policies. Physician discretion is acknowledged in applying them.

All practitioners who prescribe pain medications are encouraged to review the Safe Pain Medication Prescribing Guidelines. Topics include:

  • Cures Reports
  • Pain Assessment
  • Acute Pain Treatment Recommendations
  • Emergency Department Pain Treatment
  • Chronic Pain Treatment Recommendations
  • Chronic Pain Dosing Recommendations
  • Weaning Opiates
  • Side Effect Management
  • Concomitant Prescriptions
  • Red Flags for Prescription Drug Abuse and Fraud
  • DEA Reporting
  • Addiction Referrals
  • Educational Materials

Patient educational flyers are available in Spanish or English that explain why emergency departments follow certain guidelines in an effort to promote safe management of the patient’s pain.

San Diego Safe Prescribing has made these materials available on their website. CHPSO encourages emergency departments to review these materials and consider similar actions in their own facilities.