Regional Physician Meeting Held to Address Opioid Abuse Crisis

March 1, 2017

On February 28th,  physicians representing 11 different health care systems, hospitals, and FQHCs met to discuss what physicians are doing across WNC to address the opioid crisis. Physicians present spoke on behalf of Harris/Swain, Haywood, Cherokee Indian Hospital, Pardee Hospital, Appalachian Mountain Community Health Center, Hot Springs Health Program, Park Ridge Hospital, Minnie Jones Clinic, MAHEC, Care Partners, Blue Ridge Community Health Services, and Mission. Also present were representatives from CCWNC, NCMS and the WCMS Association Board of Directors. Miriam Schwarz, CEO of WCMS, facilitated the meeting.

While chronic pain management seems to be under better control thanks to these efforts, the continued variation in prescriptions for acute pain management was of great concern. Physicians present owned the problem, demonstrated tangible progress in addressing the problem, and encouraged their colleagues to join them in adopting and adhering to CDC standards so that the patient experience is consistent across the region. It was recommended by this group that the same acute pain care process model be used regionally. Representatives from Vaya Health’s regional Substance use Disorders in WNC Alliance were present and noted the recommendation.

The group discussed how to advocate with NC legislators and the medical board for sensible third party oversight and policy, keeping the stewardship for resolving this issue with those responsible for prescribing the drugs. It was recommended that physicians tell their legislators about what was shared at this meeting: the excellent progress being made in WNC by physicians to address opioid abuse, and physicians’ willingness to work with legislators to find solutions that hold prescribers accountable in a constructive and clinically evidence-based way.