News Headlines Article

Health Officials Call for Less Aggressive Treatment of Pain
The Wall Street Journal

In a sign of growing alarm about painkiller addiction, a group of U.S. state health officials, doctors and consumer advocates is calling for a stricter approach to treating pain in hospitals and clinics.

The group of 60, including senior health officials from Pennsylvania, Vermont, Alaska and Rhode Island, is recommending new guidelines for pain treatment, saying current standards are too aggressive and contribute to overuse of addictive painkillers.

In a letter sent Wednesday to the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the group urges the agency to stop surveying patients about how well their pain was controlled while in the hospital, a set of questions the agency uses to help judge hospital performance and determine payment. The group argued that the pain questions “have had the unintended consequence of encouraging aggressive opioid use” because hospitals aim for high scores on the surveys.