Barry University Anesthesiology Programs presents Treating Pain Without Opioids

In June 2019, Florida became the fifth state in the nation to adopt a law with the intent to mitigate the opioid epidemic. Florida’s law, in particular, requires that health care providers have a conversation about opioids and provide a pamphlet about alternatives to opioid medications to their patients before administering or prescribing an opioid. Barry University Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology, Jeanne Antolchick, Ph.D., APRN, CRNA, played an integral role in bringing it to fruition.

Dr. Jeanne Antolchick has dedicated her career to shared decision-making between patients and their health care providers. Her work as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) gave her crucial insight into the overuse of opioids. Similar to the manner in which misinformation about the dangers of cigarette smoking was once promoted by the tobacco companies, many health care providers and patients have been misinformed about the safety and efficacy of opioids. Dr. Antolchick became an advocate of non-opioid pain management, a position she promoted vigorously as a member of the board of directors of the Florida Association of Nurse Anesthetists (FANA), a professional organization representing more than 5,400 CRNAs. FANA successfully lobbied for and helped pass the non-opioid alternatives bill. “Patients have a right to request that no opioids are administered to them unless they choose,” says Dr. Antolchick. “A frank conversation with their healthcare provider will ensure that the best decision is made for that individual patient’s care.”

Why was creating legislation around non-opioid alternatives for patients so important?

Many times, patients do not feel comfortable speaking with their health care providers about their concerns regarding their care. Perhaps they feel rushed. Perhaps they feel embarrassed. Perhaps they are afraid. Or perhaps, they are simply uneducated about the fact that there are many ways to manage both acute and chronic pain conditions that do not involve opioids.

And, sometimes, what is even worse, is that health care providers ignore or forget what their patients have told them. For example, a patient in recovery from opioid addiction may ask his or her health care provider to “not give me any opioids.” Perhaps that message does not get passed on to others who will take over the care of that patient. Or perhaps the health care provider doesn’t believe that receiving even one dose of an opioid in the operating room while under general anesthesia can lead to a relapse. Some health care providers may not understand that opioids are not a necessary part of a pain management plan and alternative methods are indeed available. Regardless of the reason, the non-opioid alternatives law gives the patient a voice.

What are some of the misconceptions around opioids and what does non-opioid pain management involve?

Preconceived notions about opioids include the following: opioids are necessary, opioids are beneficial, opioids are safe, and opioids effectively manage pain. These are not correct.

Non-opioid pain management techniques involve the elimination of opioids, which are replaced by multimodal agents that block the nociceptive (pain) pathway. Opioids are avoided to eliminate their many costly side effects including nausea, vomiting, constipation, ileus, urinary retention, somnolence, dysphoria, tolerance, dependence, abuse, addiction, opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH), respiratory depression, and opioid-induced ventilatory impairment.

For more information about treating pain without opioids, please visit: goopioidfree.com

For more information about Barry University’s Anesthesiology program, please visit: barry.edu/anesthesiology

To sign up for the Graduate Program Open House, visit: www.barry.edu/graduate-open-house/


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