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Evidence to Improve Care

Opioid Prescribing for Acute Pain

Care for People 15 Years of Age and Older

Click below to see a list of brief quality statements and scroll down for more information.​​

Quality standards are sets of concise statements designed to help health care professionals easily and quickly know what care to provide, based on the best evidence. ​

See below for the quality statements and click for more detail.​

Quality Statement 1: Comprehensive Assessment
People with acute pain receive a comprehensive assessment to guide pain management.

Quality Statement 2: Multimodal Therapies
People with acute pain receive multimodal therapy consisting of non-opioid pharmacotherapy with physical and/or psychological interventions, with opioids added only when appropriate.

Quality Quality Statement 3: Opioid Dose and Duration
People with acute pain who are prescribed opioids receive the lowest effective dose of the least potent immediate-release opioid. A duration of 3 days or less is often sufficient. A duration of more than 7 days is rarely indicated.

Quality Statement 4: Information on Benefits and Harms of Opioid Use and Shared Decision-Making
People with acute pain and their families and caregivers receive information about the potential benefits and harms of opioid therapy, safe storage, and safe disposal of unused medication at the times of both prescribing and dispensing.

Quality Statement 5: Acute Pain in People Who Regularly Take Opioids
People with acute pain who regularly take opioids receive care from a health care professional or team with expertise in pain management. Any short-term increase in opioids to treat acute pain is accompanied by a plan to taper to the previous dose.

Quality Statement 6: Acute Pain in People With Opioid Use Disorder
People taking buprenorphine/naloxone or methadone for the treatment of opioid use disorder continue their medication during acute-pain events.

Quality Statement 7: Prescription Monitoring Systems
Health care professionals who prescribe or dispense opioids have access to a real-time prescription monitoring system at the point of care. Prescription history is checked when opioids are prescribed and dispensed to avoid duplicate prescriptions, potentially harmful medication interactions, and diversion.

Quality Statement 8: Tapering and Discontinuation
People prescribed opioids for acute pain are aware of the potential for experiencing physical dependence and symptoms of withdrawal and have a plan for tapering and discontinuation.

Quality Statement 9: Health Care Professional Education
Health care professionals have the knowledge and skills to appropriately assess and treat acute pain using a multimodal approach; appropriately prescribe, monitor, taper, and discontinue opioids; and recognize and treat opioid use disorder.

Health Quality Ontario thanks the following individuals for their generous, voluntary contributions of time and expertise to help create this quality standard:

Jason Busse (co-chair)
Associate Professor
Department of Anesthesia, McMaster University

Bjug Borgundvaag (co-chair)
Mount Sinai Hospital

Fiona Campbell
Hospital for Sick Children

Claudette Chase
Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority

Hance Clarke
Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network

Judie Craig
Lived Experience Advisor

Alexandru Mera
William Osler Health System

David Mock
Dental Surgeon
Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario

Monakshi Sawhney
Nurse Practitioner
Queen’s University, Hotel Dieu Hospital and North York General Hospital

We also thank the Opioid Prescribing for Chronic Pain Quality Standard Advisory Committee for providing feedback on this quality standard.

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