Appropriate, Safe and Effective Opioid Prescribing Education the Focus of Today's Scope of Pain Conference in East Lansing; Sponsored by LARA and Boston University's School of Medicine

Contact: Melanie Brown 517-373-9280
Agency: Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

September 27, 2013 - Safely and effectively treating patients with chronic pain with extended release/long-acting (ER/LA) opioid analgesics is the focus for medical professionals attending today’s Scope of Pain conference in East Lansing.  “We are pleased to co-sponsor this comprehensive pain management training where prescribers will develop the skills needed for the appropriate use of opioids for the treatment of pain,” said Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) Deputy Director Shelly Edgerton. 

The conference offers 4.75 contact hours of clinical content on the following topics:

  • Assessing Chronic Pain and Opioid Misuse Risk
  • Initiating Opioid Therapy Safely
  • Assessing and Managing Aberrant Medication Taking Behavior

The training will end with a panel discussion with representatives of the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS) and the Michigan Advisory Committee on Pain and Symptom Management.   Immediately following this training there will be an afternoon Scope of Pain train-the-trainer session.

Participants attending today’s conference include physicians, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, addiction professionals, and others.  Program participants will learn:

  • appropriate patient assessment and monitoring
  • medical record documentation that meets best practice standards and medical-legal requirements when treating patients with chronic opioid therapy;
  • a practical framework for appropriate decision-making on starting, adjusting dosages and stopping opioid analgesics for the treatment of chronic pain;
  • risk assessment and risk management of patients being considered for chronic opioid therapy; 
  • effective communication strategies for advising patients on how to safely take, store, and dispose of their pain medications, and on the need for close monitoring;
  • effective communication strategies for those patients who may be misusing, abusing, and diverting their pain medications.

“Chronic pain is a major public health issue that has been identified by the Institute of Medicine.  Unfortunately, too, the problem of patients’ misusing their pain medications, including overdosing on them is also a major public health issue,” said Edgerton.

“Clinicians need specific guidance on how to appropriately, safely, and effectively treat pain while at the same time managing the risks associated with powerful pain medications.”                                 

At the same time, a 2012 Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs survey of fully licensed physicians, found that 88 percent reported receiving some, little, or no training in managing pain.  Continuing medical education, such as the Scope of Pain training that is being offered was most often cited as the best source of information on pain management

Additionally, survey findings identified key barriers to adequately addressing patients’ pain:  31 percent identified fear that the patient may become addicted to pain medication; 20 percent identified insufficient time with patients to assess pain; 19 percent identified patients not reporting or underreporting their pain; and 15 percent pointed to their own lack of knowledge or proper training on how to fully assess and treat pain.  For the complete survey, go to and click on 2012 Physician Report on Pain with Prior Year Comparisons.

In a 2013 public telephone survey conducted by LARA’s Bureau of Health Care Services, 27.2 percent of Michigan residents have sought treatment from a health care professional for a chronic pain condition in the past year. The survey results also showed that 29 percent of Michigan residents have sought treatment from a health care professional for an acute pain condition in the past year.

The Scope of Pain training is co-sponsored by the Bureau of Health Care Services (BHCS) located in the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, and Boston University’s School of Medicine.  LARA’s Bureau of Health Care Services includes the Health Professional Division, Long Term Care Division, and Health Facilities Division.  BHCS is responsible for regulating more than 400,000 health professionals in Michigan. 

Gov. Rick Snyder declared September as Pain Awareness Month. State resources dedicated to effective pain management include the Bureau of Health Care System's Pain and Management website at which offers information for the public and health care professionals.  Consumers will find information on treatment options, end of life care, palliative care, state and national guidelines and recommendations, legislation, resources, data, and links to organizations with expertise in the area of pain and symptom management. 

For more information about LARA, please visit
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