New Opioid Prescribing Rules

The Washington Medical Commission has adopted opioid prescribing rules that are effective January 1, 2019.  It is important that physicians familiarize themselves with these new rules.  Below are links to several toolkits from the Commission that will assist in that process.  

On the evening of Tuesday, November 27, PCMS Executive Director Bruce Ehrle participated in a Northwest Physicians Network Town Hall about opioids by presenting a summary of the new federal opioid crisis law, known as the SUPPORT Act.  Conversation with several physicians during the town hall further revealed the chilling impact that the crisis is having within the medical community with increased difficulty referring patients for pain treatment and management amidst already low reimbursement rates for some of those patients.  This will require advocacy with policymakers to examine methods by which care providers may be offered a new payment structure for the increasingly complex nature of caring for patients with chronic pain.  While new preventive measures are being implemented well to help address the crisis and prescribing volumes of opioids indicate a trend down across the entire nation, part of that downward trend may be attributable to that chilling climate about prescribing any opioids.  Finding that crucial balance between maintaining that positive reduction in opioid prescribing while still having pain addressed as a vital sign all while seeking to assist those with substance abuse disorders in the public health setting continue to be issues raised by physicians including at the NPN town hall on Tuesday. 

Thus far, both the new state rules and the new federal law do not go to the extremes of removing care decisions for patients out of the hands of physicians such as with mandated pill counts or cookie-cutter solutions with a one-size-fits-all approach.  As you implement these new rules and as the new federal law (provisions described in an earlier PCMS e-mail) is implemented, please keep PCMS informed of your experiences so that your Society can best advocate for you based on front line realities of providing care and addressing this crisis which has contributed to the latest decline in US life expectancy.  

Fact Sheet about new state rules (1 page):

Booklet (7 pages):

Full Rules (44 pages):

Important Information about Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP):

Washington Medical Commission FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions about the Pain Management Rule is at the bottom of the web page at this link):

DOH Osteopathic Handout (4 pages):