The opioid epidemic was fueled by overprescribing of opioids – especially for conditions like low back pain where treatment with opioids is not best practice. Our Opioid Prescribing workgroup is focused on supporting people who have been prescribed chronic opioids – meaning prescriptions for more than 60 days. Our approach will be patient-centered and based in the available evidence. We will recommend starting with engaging patients, doing a comprehensive assessment, and determining together with patients whether to stay on opioids or taper at a rate consistent with their clinical and social situation or to treat opioid use disorder, if present. Our members, including national recognized clinical experts, patient advocates, and administrative experts, are volunteering their time and brain power to help us develop our guidelines.

Unfortunately our efforts have been mischaracterized as mandatory or forced tapering which is untrue. We have heard from our clinical community that there is a big gap in best practice in supporting patients who have been prescribed opioids chronically, especially at a high dose. We believe that everyone in Washington state deserves high-quality, affordable care and are working to decrease the variation in care that is so common across so many different types of clinical services.

Chronic pain is common. We have made previous recommendations on collaborative care for chronic pain and integrating behavioral health into primary care. Our Opioid Prescribing workgroup has also worked to address opioid overprescribing by developing evidence-based guidelines for dentists, metrics to track what is happening in our state and beyond, and guidelines on opioid prescriptions after surgery along with patient and provider educational materials.

Our next meeting is May 22nd from 3:00 – 4:30pm. Join us.

Ginny Weir, MPH
Director, Bree Collaborative