ATLANTA — Dr. Patrice Harris, chair-elect of the American Medical Assoc. and chair of its Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse, recently laid out the AMA’s vision for ending the opioid epidemic.
Speaking at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, Harris highlighted the leadership roles that the AMA and individual physicians are playing — and must continue to play — to reduce deaths from opioid overdose.
“The AMA’s vision for ending this epidemic starts with a focus on what physicians can do in their practices and in their communities. We not only must take responsibility for ending this epidemic, we must take action to do so,” said Harris, who laid out several steps doctors are currently, including:
• Participating in education targeted to their state and specialty on safe opioid prescribing;
• Prescribing naloxone — a drug that can prevent opioid-overdose deaths — to at-risk patients;
• Registering with and using their state prescription-drug monitoring programs; and
• Hearing the AMA messaging that calls on physicians to be part of the solution to this epidemic.
Harris, a psychiatrist, talked about the need to avoid stigmatizing patients as well as other obstacles to effective treatment for patients with substance-use disorders.
The AMA last year brought together 25 physician organizations, 17 specialty groups, and seven state medical societies as part of its task force on opioids. It is committed to identifying the best practices to combat this public-health epidemic and to move swiftly to implement best practices across the country. The AMA is also working with the nation’s governors to come up with effective policy to reduce opioid overdoses.