Tag Archives: national safety council

How to Address the Rise in Auto Claims

The National Safety Council reported a 14% increase in fatal auto accidents between 2014 and 2016, reaching the highest total since 2007. More accidents lead to more insurance claims, and thereby more payouts from insurers. As a result, insurers are striving to more accurately measure and stratify the risk associated with their customer base to help lower claims and increase profits. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to accurately assess risk, and many insurers are stuck using traditional methods to determine rating policies.

For years, insurers have used factors like credit score, age, gender and location to set rates, but these traditional factors are not adequate alone to accurately stratify the customer base by risk. When insurers began to use credit score, they were pleased because drivers classified in the riskiest decile based on credit cost two times more to insure than those in the lowest risk decile. Although a 2x lift may seem significant, it pales in comparison to what can be achieved using modern technology to directly measure driving behavior. In particular, data shows that, by using smartphones to measure distraction, at-risk speeding, harsh braking and other factors, smartphone telematics can provide a 17x lift from lowest to highest deciles in terms of crash risk.

See also: Distracted Driving — an Infographic  

Using smartphone sensor data – and thereby leveraging technology their customer base already possesses – insurers can more accurately measure and analyze driving behavior, and use this information to stratify risk and set pricing based on driving performance. This also aligns with what consumers want. A recent survey revealed that only 20% of respondents had full clarity on how their insurance providers set prices, which seems out of touch given consumers’ overall push for transparency across industries. What’s more, 73% of drivers surveyed want insurance rates based on how they drive, not traditional factors such as gender, age or income level.

Despite the significant benefits of adopting a smartphone telematics program, some insurers have been hesitant due to concerns about customer adoption, user satisfaction and ease of implementation. For example, survey respondents indicated that only 22% had ever been offered such a program by their insurer. Considering that 75% of drivers said getting a discount from an insurance provider would motivate them to be a better driver, it is time for insurers to put their concerns aside and try offering a smartphone telematics program.

See also: It’s Rush Hour in Telematics Market  

Not only can these programs help insurers assess risk, but they can help build a loyal customer base dedicated to safer driving, because smartphone telematics apps offer a way to engage with customers through gamification features and real-time feedback. These features have been shown to help change driver behavior for the better: One insurer saw 74% of their drivers improve. Among these drivers, there were 47% fewer claims and 48% less-severe claims.

By extracting behavioral risk factors from smartphones – a modern, ubiquitous technology – and combining them with traditional assessment factors, insurers can achieve better risk stratification, set more accurate rates, reduce the quantity and severity of claims and improve loss ratios. Also, by implementing a comprehensive smartphone telematics program, insurers obtain a direct channel to their customers, where they can engage to improve driving habits and increase loyalty to the insurers’ brand.

Opioids: Invading the Workplace

America’s employers are facing a serious drug problem. A 2015 survey of 200 Indiana-based companies conducted by the National Safety Council and the Indiana Attorney General’s Office indicated that a staggering 80% of the state’s employers have had problems with employees abusing prescription opioids such as Vicodin and OxyContin.

“We would expect very similar results in many states,” said Deborah Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. The Illinois-based nonprofit organization focuses on preventing injuries and deaths at work and in the community. “This is not a local problem. This is a national problem, and it’s very important for employers to understand that this is an issue that they need to pay attention to and not put their heads in the sand.”

Prescription painkiller abuse has reached epidemic proportions across the United States. In addition to endangering the health and well-being of millions of employees, opioid abuse is costing employers billions of dollars in absenteeism and lost productivity, and growing evidence suggests that opioid abuse also affects many unemployed individuals.

“Beyond the loss of productivity, prescription drug abuse can cause impairment, injury and may lead employees to bad choices, such as theft and embezzlement from the employer,” said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller in a news release about the December 2015 study.

See also: How to Attack the Opioid Crisis  

Employers Feel the Pain

On average, opioid misuse costs the U.S. economy $55.7 billion a year, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Employers bear the burden of nearly half of that cost, with an average of $10 billion lost every year from missed work and decreased productivity alone.

Prescription drug abuse has two effects on an employee’s medical costs. First, employees who abuse opioid drugs have significantly higher costs for pharmaceuticals than non-opioid users. Costs for opioid painkillers rose 11.5 percent in 2014, according to pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts Holding Co. As a result, workers’ compensation claim payers spent an average of $1,583 per injured worker for prescription drugs in 2014.

Furthermore, opioid abusers have significantly higher healthcare costs than non-abusers — $10,627 higher annually — according to a research article in the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy.

The Illusion of Relief

While highly effective in the short term, opioids are also dangerously addictive. This is because opioids produce a sense of pleasure due to their effect on brain regions involved in reward mechanisms. Adding to their danger is the fact that opioids tend to induce tolerance, which means that over time larger and larger doses are needed to achieve the initial effect.

A 2015 Healthentic study on the cost of painkiller abuse borne by U.S. companies found that for pain related to common workplace injuries such as soft-tissue injuries (bruises and musculoskeletal problems that affect muscles, bones and joints), opioids are no more effective at reducing pain than over-the-counter alternatives such as Tylenol, Advil or generic ibuprofen.

Less risky treatments for pain include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, nerve blockers and other medicines including anti-seizure drugs and antidepressants which have pain-relieving properties. Other important options for managing the pain of workplace injuries include physical therapy, massage and acupuncture. It is also vital to treat any concomitant depression in the injured worker, as depression makes pain feel more acute and causes the sufferer to feel hopeless and helpless.

Steps Employers Can Take

Employers have a variety of options to ensure the long-term health of employees while improving productivity and lowering employment costs. The first is to demand adherence to evidence-based prescribing guidelines for pain treatment from all participating providers in their medical, workers’ compensation and occupational health programs. There is technology available now that can alert payers to providers who prescribe according to current treatment guidelines and those who don’t.

Employers also should educate employees about the risks of opioid drug use to help prevent drug misuse. For example, employees should know that a substantial subset of opioid users become addicted with their very first prescription, so care is warranted to ensure that patients with chronic pain know both the advantages and disadvantages of taking opioids right from the start.

Lastly, employers should provide confidential access to treatment for employees who find themselves in a position of opioid dependency. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) or wellness programs should be able to connect employees with effective treatment programs for their opioid use disorder, their depression and whatever else is impeding their ability to full productivity.

See also: The True Face of Opioid Addiction  

The Connection With Unemployment

A new study suggests unemployment also might be one of the factors behind the dramatic rise in opioid use disorder. The paper, published by NBER, finds that as the unemployment rate increases by one percentage point in a given county, the opioid death rate rises by 3.6 percent, and emergency room visits rise by 7 percent.

Rather than more people getting injured when jobs are scarce, the authors suspect that the increased use of painkillers is a “physical manifestation of mental health problems that have long been known to rise during periods of economic decline.” Depression and pain go hand-in-hand, in other words: “Not only does depression make people more sensitive to pain,” they note, but also, “opioids have been shown to help relieve depressive symptoms.” Pain, opioids and depression are all interrelated and all must be managed to achieve what both injured workers and payers would regard as success.

One can conclude from all of this evidence that opioid use disorder is increasingly rampant among both employees and those who are unemployed. Opioid misuse now may be a national problem, but the solution needs to start locally. Employers are uniquely positioned to demand accountability from providers and to join with their neighborhood social service agencies and nonprofits focusing on the opioid issue collectively to intervene in and reduce the prevalence of this debilitating epidemic.

A New Safety Threat on Our Roads

We’ve been driving cars for 125 years. We have been talking on telephones for 100 years. We’ve only combined these two activities, to any great degree, in the last 10 to 15 years.

Motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 cause of accidental death in the U.S. Crashes are the leading cause of all death, accidental or otherwise, for everyone between the ages of five and 35. Those between the ages of 15 and 20 are more likely to die in a car crash than the next three leading causes of death combined – homicide, suicide and cancer. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the critical reason for 94% of crashes is driver error, as opposed to vehicle- or environment-related reasons. Recognition and decision errors, which include driver distraction, represent 74% of driver error.

Alarmingly, after decades of decline, total fatalities from vehicle crashes and fatalities per million miles driven have been increasing for the past two years. There is a new threat on our nation’s highways, and it’s distracted driving. Drivers have always been at risk of distraction, but today, because of the rapid adoption of mobile communications technology, drivers are now distracted in ways we never dreamed possible 20 years ago.

See also: Distracted Driving: a Job for Insurtech?  

An Important Issue for Employers and the Insurance Industry

Cell phone use while driving has become an important safety and liability issue for all employers. Those who expect employees to use cell phones while driving as part of their business must recognize that doing so exposes their employees to a preventable crash risk and employers to costly liability.

Consider a situation in which an employer knew a behavior in some area of its operations exposed employees to a much greater risk of injury. Would employers still expect, or even encourage, that behavior? That is precisely what happens when an employer permits or encourages employee cell phone use while driving. With the intense publicity surrounding cell phone distracted driving in recent years, it would be difficult for employers to argue that they’re not aware of the dangers.

Employers are responsible for ensuring employees adhere to applicable federal agency regulations and federal, state and municipal laws. However, what is often not understood is that these regulations and laws are a minimum standard and, in many cases, are not be enough to keep people safe.

Employers should establish policies about cell phone use and driving that exceed existing laws. Safety policies and systems in many companies are designed to reduce significant risks and protect employees. Companies whose leaders are committed to safety excellence know that their safety systems and policies often exceed OSHA requirements or applicable laws, because regulations and laws often prescribe minimum standards, not best-in-class safety. Designing safety policies that only comply with federal rules, regulations or state laws often leaves employees vulnerable to injury and companies exposed to liability and financial costs. Cell phone use while driving is, in this way, no different than many other occupational safety issues.

No Impact on Business Operations

Contrary to what one might think, companies that have implemented total bans on mobile device use while driving have overwhelmingly reported no negative impact on productivity, customer service or other business operations. In two studies conducted by the National Safety Council, 90% of companies with policies reported no impact on productivity. Of the 10% that reported a change, nine out of 10 claimed productivity actually increased. Only 1% thought productivity had decreased.

All Distractions Are Not the Same

Drivers who use their cell phones while driving expose themselves to a significant safety risk that affects both them and those with whom they share the road. Cell phone distraction involves all three types of driver distraction: visual, manual and cognitive.

Distracted driving crashes are the result of two factors; 1) the risk of the activity, and 2) the prevalence of that risk. Most people, including lawmakers and some researchers, only focus on risk and ignore risk exposure. In evaluating what causes crashes, both are equally important.

We typically have little concern for a risk to which we are seldom exposed, but we have great concern for a risk to which we are continuously exposed, as in the case of cell phone distracted driving. It is risk exposure that makes cell phone use while driving such a dangerous activity. NHTSA has stated (based on its annual NOPUS study) that more than 10% of all drivers are using their cell phones at any given time. No other distracting behavior or risk comes close to that level of exposure. It is risk exposure that makes cell phones the most dangerous distraction, by far, that drivers face on a continuing basis.

The Human Brain Does Not Truly Multi-Task

The field of cognitive neuroscience has studied human attention for more than 80 years. These scientists will tell you there is no such thing as true “multi-tasking.” When we are reading a book or magazine article and the phones rings, we naturally stop reading, answer the phone and have a conversation. Most of us would never consider continuing to read as we talk on the phone. That is because the human brain does not multi-task, it toggle tasks. It switches back and forth between two tasks, never engaged in both at precisely the same time. We know that if we try to read and talk on the phone, we are not doing either task well, so we rarely try to do both at the same time. Yet, most of us think it is perfectly fine to talk on the phone and drive a vehicle. If we make a mistake reading a book, we can re-read a paragraph. If we make a mistake driving a vehicle, it can damage our lives or someone else’s.

Hands-Free is Not the Answer

As traffic safety professionals pursue a culture change around cell phone use while driving, It will be much easier to convince drivers to switch to hands-free rather than to stop using phones altogether while driving. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that hands-free phone use reduces distraction or crashes. More than 30 research studies have found that hands-free devices offer no safety benefit, because they do not reduce the cognitive distraction of the phone conversation. All major U.S. traffic safety organizations, including the National Safety Council (NSC) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), have made public statements, after reviewing research, that hands-free is not safer than hand-held phone use.

See also: Don’t Be Distracted by Driverless Cars  

NSC and NTSB

In January 2009, based on input from many of its 10,000 plus business members, NSC called for a total ban on cell phone driving. In December 2011, the NTSB issued the recommendation that all states enact complete bans of all portable electronic devices for all drivers — including banning the use of hands-free devices. This follows its total ban recommendation for commercial drivers in October 2011. NTSB recommendations are based on their investigations of serious and fatal crashes that found driver or operator cell phone use was a factor in the crashes.

Conclusion

The rapid advancement of mobile communications technology has enabled drivers to engage in all kinds activities while driving a vehicle that have nothing to do with driving. As long as crashes are killing and seriously injuring so many people, and as long as driver error is the overwhelming leading cause of crashes, does it make sense to allow, and even encourage, the driver to engage in phone calls, Facebook updates, voice based texting and other activities that have nothing to do with the already dangerous task of driving?

The auto and consumer electronics industries have claimed that “eyes on the road and hands on the wheel” are the only critical requirements for distraction free driving. They seem to believe the mind is not required to safely operate a vehicle. This contradicts years of science and, most importantly, common sense. It is time that we focus first and exclusively on the task of driving, for our safety and for the safety of everyone with whom we share the road. It is also time for the Insurance Industry to take the lead on this issue by implementing total ban policies for their employees and encouraging their insureds to drive cell phone free.

If It Walks Like a Duck, Talks Like a Duck…

Everyone is talking about the dangers of “opioid addiction.” It’s been a topic of conversation among pain management specialists, chiropractors and other healthcare providers for years, but constant news coverage of “opioids” has made it water-cooler talk. Thanks to the media, we’re all experts on the issue.

But here’s the thing: the media – and the public – are missing the point entirely. Even the expression “opioid addiction” is completely off the mark. Because we’re not talking about “opioids” – we’re talking about addiction to heroin derivatives.

“Opioid” is a much safer word than heroin – not nearly as hair-raising or dangerous. But using the word “opioid” is like putting icing on a mud pie – it’s a cover-up at best. And when you make the connection that opioids are actually heroin derivatives, you understand why the addiction has become an epidemic in this country.

The problem, though, is much more sinister than we realize. For one, patients now expect their doctors to prescribe morphine or oxycodone for pain management. Second, there’s money to be made in “opioid addiction.”

See also: Opioids Are the Opiates of the Masses  

As reported in Risk & Insurance, a new study finds that a majority of patients still believe opioids are the most effective remedy for pain. In fact, a full two-thirds of physicians surveyed said their patients expect them to prescribe drugs. And in spite of the highly addictive nature of these drugs, doctors are still influenced by their patients’ expectations.

It gets worse. Despite evidence that oxycodone and morphine are not the most effective medications for pain relief, almost all of the physicians who were surveyed – 98 percent of them – prescribe some form of opioids for pain control. What’s more, the National Safety Council reports that 99 percent of the providers prescribe opioids for longer than the three-day course of treatment the Centers for Disease Control recommends.

Here’s the icing on this mud pie: nearly 90 percent of physicians say they find it difficult to refer patients to treatment for drug abuse or addiction, even when it’s clear their patients need help. It’s a vicious cycle with no easy solution.

Like almost everything in healthcare, we’re overlooking the most important part of the story.

The same doctor who prescribes opioids that lead to addiction can make his best money on the mandatory drug/toxicology testing he performs every month. Many good doctors recognize this as a conflict of interest – they also see that their patients are requiring higher and higher doses to feed their additions – and they intervene in the best interests of their patients. Unfortunately, there are plenty of other physicians who aren’t concerned about scruples. They are perfectly willing to pick up where others leave off. It has become a lucrative, albeit perverse, business model today.

I wish that were the end of it, but we’ve only scratched the surface. The story gets much worse from here. When patients no longer can afford opioids and drug testing (which can cost them $4,000-$10,000 each year), many have resorted to selling a couple of pills on the street in order to cover their costs. In essence, decent, respectable people become law-breaking drug dealers. Some people don’t want to sell their prescription drugs, but still must feed their addiction. Broke and desperate, they buy a cheap, street version of their opioid. This is called heroin.

It’s a trap, and it’s snaring people who never realized they were abusing heroin derivatives. They believed they were treating their pain with safe, physician-recommended oxycodone or morphine. They believe it was their best option for managing their symptoms.

Heroin derivatives are ruining the lives of good, hardworking people across the country. In recent months, I saw the horror firsthand when heroin overdoses stole the lives of two young men in my community – men with their whole lives in front of them. They weren’t your stereotypical druggies – they were addicted to pain meds.

See also: How to Help Reverse the Opioid Epidemic  

I believe addiction to heroin derivatives is far worse than anyone realizes. Someone must throw a wrench in a problem that’s wreaking havoc on families and entire communities. Here’s how Redirect Health is addressing the issue:

1. Strike “opioids” from the discourse: Never call these highly addictive prescriptions “opioids” or “pain killers.” Instead, call them “heroin derivatives,” because if it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck…

Far fewer people will want to start taking these drugs if they understand they’re a form of heroin. Simply changing the semantics will also give providers pause; they won’t be so quick to prescribe heroin derivatives.

2. Provide alternative forms of pain relief: We make it easy and affordable ($0 copays) for people to access other, safer and more effective pain management services. Our chiropractors and primary care physicians work together to help members with practical and customized virtual rehabilitation programs that don’t cost a penny out-of-pocket, don’t require them to miss work, and will provide a long-term, tenable solution to managing their pain.

It’s common sense, but not commonly done.

When Is It Right to Prescribe Opioids?

Opioids have been used for thousands of years in the treatment of pain and mental illness. Essentially everyone believes that opioids are powerful pain relievers. However, recent studies have shown that taking acetaminophen and ibuprofen together is actually more effective in treating pain. Because of this, it is helpful for medical professionals and patients to understand the history of these opioid medications and the potential benefits of using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) instead.

Extracted from the seedpod of the poppy plant, opium was the first opioid compound used for medicinal purposes. The active ingredients of opium are primarily morphine, codeine and thebaine. Opium and its derivatives have had more impact on human society than any other medication. Wars have been fought and countless lives have been lost to the misuse, abuse and overdose of opioids. It is also clear, however, that many received comfort from pain when there was no other alternative. For thousands of years, opium products provided the only effective treatment of pain and were also used to treat anxiety and depression. Tolerance, dependence and addiction were identified early as a problem with opioids.

In 1899, Bayer produced and introduced aspirin for wide distribution. It became the first significant alternative to opioids for treating pain. Aspirin not only relieves pain but also reduces inflammation and is in the class of NSAID medications. Aspirin was commonly used for mild pain such as headache and backache. Other NSAID medications followed with the development of ibuprofen in 1961, indomethacin in 1963 and many others over the next 20 years. While these drugs are not addictive or habit-forming, their use and effectiveness were limited by side effects and toxicity. All NSAID medications share some of the same side effects of aspirin, primarily the risk of gastrointestinal irritation and ulcer. These medications can also harm renal function.

Acetaminophen was created in 1951 but not widely distributed until 1955 under the trade name Tylenol. Acetaminophen is neither an opioid nor an NSAID. Tylenol soon became another medication that was useful in the treatment of pain, offering an alternative to the opioid medications and to aspirin. Acetaminophen avoids many of the side effects of opioids and NSAIDs b­ut carries its own risk with liver toxicity.

Efficacy in acute pain

Since the development of acetaminophen, medical professionals have had the choice of three different classes of medications when treating pain. Those decisions are usually made by considering the perceived effectiveness of each medicine and its side effects along with the physical status of the patient. For example, acetaminophen should not be taken by someone with advanced liver damage; NSAIDs should not be given to an individual with advanced kidney disease or stomach ulcers; and opioids pose a potential risk to anyone with a personal or family history of addiction.

Although many have long been believed that opioids are the strongest pain medications and should be used for more severe pain, scientific literature does not support that belief. There are many other treatments that should be utilized for treating pain. Studies have shown NSAIDs are just as strong as the opioids.

Number needed to treat

When considering the effectiveness or the strength of pain medications, it is important to understand one of the statistical measures used in clinical studies: the number needed to treat (NNT). NNT is the number of people who must be treated by a specific intervention for one person to receive a certain effect. For example, when testing pain medications, the intervention is the dose of pain medication, and the effect is usually 50% pain relief. That is considered effective treatment, allowing people increased functional abilities and an improved quality of life (Cochrane. org, 2014). So the question becomes, how many people must be treated with a certain dose of a medication for one person to receive 50% pain relief (effective relief)?

A lower NNT means the medicine is more effective. A product with an NNT of 1 means that the medicine is 100% effective at reducing pain by 50% — everyone who takes the medicine has effective pain relief. A medicine with an NNT of 2 means two people must be treated for one to receive effective relief. Or, alternatively, one out of two, or 50%, of people who take the medicine get effective pain relief. An example of a medicine that would not be a good pain reliever would be one with a NNT equal to 10. In such a case, you would have to treat 10 people for one to receive effective pain relief. Basically, the medication with the lowest NNT will be the most effective. For oral pain medications, an NNT of 1.5 is very good, and an NNT of 2.5 would be considered good.

Treating chronic pain

Despite the widespread use of opioid medications to treat chronic pain, there is no significant evidence to support this practice. A recent article reviewing the evidence regarding the use of opioids to treat chronic non-cancer pain concluded, “There is no high-quality evidence on the efficacy of long-term opioid treatment of chronic nonmalignant pain.” (Kissin, 2013, p. 519) A recent Cochrane review comparing opioids with placebo in the treatment of low back pain came to a similar conclusion. This review said that there may be some benefit over placebo when used for short-term treatment, but no evidence shows that opioids are helpful when used for longer than four months. There is no evidence of benefit over non-opioid medications when used for less than four months. (Chaparro et al., 2014)

Several other reviews have also concluded that no evidence exists to support long-term use – longer than four months – of opioids to treat chronic pain. (Kissin, 2013; Martell et al., 2007; McNicol, Midbari, & Eisenberg, 2013; Noble et al., 2010)

Epidemiologic studies have also failed to confirm the efficacy of chronic opioid therapy (COT) for chronic non-cancer pain. A large study from Denmark showed that those with chronic pain who were on COT had higher levels of pain, had poorer quality of life and were less functional than those with chronic pain who were not on COT. (Eriksen, Sj.gren, Bruera, Ekholm, & Rasmussen, 2006)

In the last 20 years in the U.S., we have increased our consumption of opioids by more than 600%. (Paulozzi & Baldwin, 2012) Despite this increase, we have not decreased our suffering from pain. The Burden of Disease study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that Americans suffered as much disability from back and neck pain in 2010 as they did in 1990 before the escalation in the prescribing of opioids. (Murray, 2013) A study in JAMA in 2008 found, “Despite rapidly increasing medical expenditures from 1997 to 2005, there was no improvement over this period in self-assessed health status, functional disability, work limitations or social functioning among respondents with spine problems.” (Martin et al., 2008, p. 661)

It is currently estimated that more than 9 million Americans use COT for the treatment of chronic nonmalignant pain (Boudreau et al., 2009). When we consider the proven benefits of this treatment along with the known risks, we must ask ourselves how we can ethically continue this treatment.

The reality is we really don’t know if COT is effective. Anecdotal evidence and expert opinion suggest it may be beneficial in a few, select people. However, epidemiologic studies suggest that it may be doing more harm than good.

Terminal care

The treatment of incurable cancer, end-stage lung disease and other end-of-life situations are notable examples where opioid medications are absolutely indicated. Although opioid painkillers are not very good medications for the treatment of pain, they are very strong psychotherapeutic agents. They are excellent at relieving anxiety and treating depression for a limited time. Opioids cause beneficial changes to brain serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine and endorphins. For short-term, end-of-life situations, these neuropsychiatric effects are likely beneficial. For terminal care, opioids are the medications of choice.

Conclusion

The opioid medications are often referred to as “powerful painkillers.” In fact, the evidence shows that they are mild to moderate painkillers and less effective than over-the-counter ibuprofen. They have, however, powerful side effects that harm hundreds of thousands of individuals every year in the U.S. Even if one disregards the public health problems created by the use of opioid painkillers, these medications still are not a good choice for the treatment of acute pain — regardless of the severity. In some situations, limited use is appropriate. But in the majority of situations in which opioid painkillers are used today, they are not appropriate.

The standard of care in the practice of medicine today is to provide the best treatment that causes the least harm. When there is a treatment that is proven to be both more effective and safer, it is the treatment of choice. The implication of this data for policymakers is critical. By implementing policy that puts restrictions on opioid prescribing to protect public health, policymakers will also improve the treatment of pain by guiding prescribers to use medications that are more effective. It is also important for the medical and dental communities to address this inadequate and unsafe treatment of pain and change practice standards to guide care that is more appropriate for what our patients need and deserve.

This is an excerpt from a paper that can be downloaded in its entirety from the National Safety Council.