Scott Fishman, chief of the Division of Pain Medicine and professor of anesthesiology at UC Davis Health System, was the keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) on Saturday, April 28, in Fort Worth, Texas.
The intensive three-day educational forum for physicians, state medical and osteopathic boards, and health leaders nationwide brought together national experts who discussed a wide range of controversial issues, including safe and effective pain management.
Fishman spoke on "Pain and Prescription Drug Abuse," a complex issue that reflects two colliding health-care trends in America -- the overuse of opioid painkillers as a treatment for pain and the millions who still suffer with undertreated pain.
"We must treat pain, but we have to do it safely," said Fishman. "Opioids represent only a small part of the spectrum of options for mitigating pain, but they carry a substantial level of risk. The statistics on opioid-related misuse, diversion, morbidity and mortality are unacceptable. But I believe we can -- and must -- educate ourselves about how to improve our practices to minimize misuses and diversion, while at the same time providing the best pain management possible."
A strong advocate for broader physician training in pain management, Fishman emphasized the need for mandatory physician training and offered pragmatic steps to reduce risk and improve patient outcomes. His revised and updated book, Responsible Opioid Prescribing: A Clinician's Guide, was recently published by the FSMB. It can help practitioners understand and implement practices that support rational, transparent and risk-managed opioid prescribing based on the latest research and best-practices guidelines from the FMSB and leading pain medicine societies.
Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, discussed the federal government's national drug control strategy and efforts to combat prescription drug abuse. He applauded the FSMB and state medical board efforts to educate practitioners on sound prescribing practices through Responsible Opioid Prescribing.
Fishman is a leading pain medicine clinician, researcher, teacher, lecturer and writer. He also is the author of Listening to Pain: A Clinician's Guide to Improving Pain Management Through Better Communication and The War on Pain.