HCN News & Notes

Gov. Baker Enlists Medical Schools in Combating Opioid Epidemic

BOSTON — In an effort to arm the next generation of doctors with the tools to curb the opioid epidemic, Gov. Charlie Baker recently met with the Mass. Medical Society (MMS) and deans from four medical schools to discuss opportunities for enhancing curriculum and establishing cross-institutional best practices in pain management and safe prescribing of opioids.

“The avenue prescription pain pills can provide to addiction and heroin use further stresses the need for advancing safe and responsible prescribing methods in the medical community,” Baker said. “I am proud that the leaders of the major medical schools here today are committed to working collaboratively with us and each other to review the existing curricula for medical students around safe prescribing and proper use in order to begin curbing this public-health epidemic.”

Providing doctors additional training on opioids was part of the comprehensive set of 65 recommendations released in June by the Governor’s Opioid Working Group.

“Massachusetts is home to the best medical care in the world. We are a national leader of cutting-edge diagnostics and innovative technologies to treat complex conditions,” said MMS President Dr. Dennis Dimitri. “With this collaboration by four major medical schools, we are again setting a new standard — this time for giving our young medical students and residents enhanced education to manage pain properly, while identifying addictive behaviors and getting patients into treatment when needed.”

The four medical institutions — UMass Medical School, Harvard Medical School, Boston University School of Medicine, and Tufts School of Medicine — instruct about 3,000 medical students per year. In the first meeting, attendees agreed to continue toward making recommendations regarding best practices, curricula enhancements, and opportunities for public/private, cross-institutional collaboration.

“Whether they aspire to be a primary-care doctor, emergency physician or a surgeon, participating in this type of training early on gets them thinking about the importance of pain management for their patients as well as the importance of choosing the right pain-management tool,” said Dr. Monica Bharel, commissioner of the state Department of Public Health.