Pain patients shouldn’t be rapidly forced off opioids or have their prescriptions suddenly discontinued.
Those are among new federal guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services. It encourages doctors to make shared decisions with patients and evaluate whether benefits outweigh risk.
It also states there are serious risks for some patients if painkiller dosages are reduced too quickly.
“An abrupt withdraw from the medication could lead to increased pain withdrawal symptoms, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, patients may even seek illicit opioids from high risk sources. So we want to do it in a way that is safe and comfortable for the patient,” says Baylor Scott and White Pain Management Specialist Dr. Robert Martin.
The guidelines say if the patient agrees to have their dosage reduced, doctors should work with them on a plan.