Washington, D.C.—Engaging patients in the management of their own pain can decrease the risk of substance use disorder and help combat the growing opioid crisis, according to comments by Bruce Schoneboom, PhD, CRNA, FAAN, AANA appointee to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force, on May 30 and 31. Schoneboom is the Chief Learning Officer for the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), which represents more than 52,000 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and student registered nurse anesthetists nationwide.
The task force, which was required by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 and appointed by HHS Secretary Alex Azar, is charged with determining whether there are gaps or inconsistencies between chronic and acute pain management best practices developed or adopted by federal agencies and professional associations. The task force will recommend ways to address identified gaps or inconsistencies, propose updates to best practices, and develop a strategy for disseminating this information to relevant federal agencies and the public.
Schoneboom, who is the only nurse appointed to the task force, spoke about the important role CRNAs play in pain management, ensuring patients access to care and striving to reduce patient dependence on addictive opioid drugs. CRNAs are anesthesia and analgesia experts who are the hands-on providers of more than 43 million anesthetics to patients each year in the United States.
Many patients across the country rely on CRNAs as their primary pain specialist. Schoneboom told the task force that the AANA believes that moving from a unimodal approach of using opioid drugs to manage chronic and acute pain to a more patient-centered, multidisciplinary, multimodal, opioid-sparing treatment approach optimizes patient engagement in their own pain care, decreasing the risk of chronic pain as well as substance use disorder. He encouraged the task force to consider recommending removing artificial barriers and restrictions to practice that reduce access to qualified healthcare professionals like CRNAs.
“CRNA services are crucial to the successful development and implementation of techniques such as enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS),” said Schoneboom. “CRNAs and other anesthesia professionals play an integral role in these episodes of care as proper anesthesia services management can make a tremendous difference in terms of improving patient flow, patient safety, and cost savings, as well as reducing dependence on addictive medications post-surgery.”