Avoiding regulatory complaints when treating chronic pain patients with opioids

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Purpose:To provide nurse practitioners (NPs) in primary care settings who treat chronic pain with opioids information on nationally accepted standards, assessment tools, pain management contracts, and effective documentation strategies to evidence safe practice to protect patients, the public, and to defend the NP against complaints that lead to regulatory investigations.Data sources:Existing screening tools and national pain management standards.Conclusions:Many NPs lack formal pain management education and preceptorships, thus leaving them at risk for incomplete assessments, poor documentation, and failing to implement necessary safeguards that can lead to regulatory complaint investigations and discipline against their license.Implications for practice:NPs often lack awareness of national pain management standards and the risks of chronic opioid prescribing. When adverse events occur, the NP can become the focus of a regulatory investigation that results in formal discipline against their license to practice. Using standard assessment tools, pain management contracts, and implementing safeguards to protect the patient and the public evidence safe practice and, help avoid regulatory discipline against the NP license.

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