As anesthesiologists we know firsthand that opioid dependence is complex and multifaceted and that there is not one silver bullet to curbing this public health epidemic. However, a key part of stemming this crisis is patient education – ensuring that patients who undergo a surgery or procedure have information about strategies to manage post-surgical pain including non-medicinal pain management options.
I’m proud to share with you CSA’s new patient education resource: a 3-minute easy-to-understand animated English video and Spanish video designed to educate patients and their caregivers and how to safely take opioids at home if they are prescribed. The videos are designed to expand knowledge about non-opioid medications and pain management techniques as well as ensure patients understand all the risks and benefits associated with opioids.
The videos are housed on the Safe Opioid Use page on CSA’s website and we will be promoting them through a variety of communications channels including media relations, social media, and stakeholder engagement. The ultimate goal is for these videos to be integrated into the pre-op and discharge process at as many hospitals and surgery centers as possible so patients and caregivers have this valuable resource and can make informed decisions. We are asking for all CSA members to share the video with their hospital and surgery center leadership, colleagues and professional network and on their social media platforms to increase awareness and encourage its widespread use.
My personal thanks to our Board members Phil Levin, MD and Rita Agarwal, MD who partnered with me to lead this initiative and a big thanks to the video sub-committee members - Jack Berger, MD; Samir Sheth, MD, Andrui Nazarian, MD; Lynn Citron, MD and Siamak Rahman, MD -- for their time and effort in working with KP Public Affairs and WorldWise Productions to create this tremendous resource.
An important message in these videos is it is normal and expected to have some pain after having a surgery or procedure. Eliminating the expectation that patients will have zero pain will go a long way in helping patients understand what they should expect and consider alternative ways to manage their post-procedure pain.
In addition to informing patients, this video will serve as an important resource in educating policymakers that anesthesiologists are on the front lines of fighting the opioid epidemic and that we are experts at utilizing non-opioid pain medicine options including interventional procedures. Over the summer legislative recess several District Directors held in-district meetings with legislators and shared this video with elected officials and their staff members. Showing the video at these meetings was an important illustration of CSA’s commitment to protecting patient safety.
As the California legislature reconvenes next year and undoubtedly introduces bills to address the opioid epidemic, it is important to ensure that policy changes don’t have unintended consequences. We don’t want patients to suffer unnecessarily, so there must be a pathway for physicians to provide appropriate pain medicine treatments, which may include opioids and there must be adequate patient education.
I hope you find this video to be a helpful resource and that you will help CSA promote the use of this video as a patient education tool at the hospital or surgery center where you practice as well as by share it with your colleagues and on social media. Subtitled versions will be available within the week. If you need sample language to use in distribution, please let us know as we’d be happy to provide that (contact Lisa Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org). I truly believe that together we can make a difference in stemming the opioid crisis that is plaguing our communities.