Kansas State Board of Healing Arts and Board of Nursing Collaborate On Pain Management Initiative

In February of 2016, two critical policy-making agencies collaborated to revise their approach to combating opioid addiction in Kansas. Delegates from Kansas’s State Board of Healing Arts and the Board of Nursing met to discuss a proposed redrafting of a “Joint Pain Management Policy.” The draft serves as an attempt to devise pain management plans that address each patient’s individual needs while countenancing and interdicting addictive behavior. The draft purports to expand the health care provider’s role in administering pain medication to impose greater oversight over the patient’s treatment with opioids.  Any health care provider licensed by either Board is now on notice that each respective licensing authority is carefully monitoring narcotics dispensing practices. A breach of this policy may result in disciplinary action. Kansas professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger advises all of her clients to carefully monitor their opioid dispensing practice consistent with a health care provider’s duty of care.

The current Joint Pain Management Policy promulgated by the State Board of Healing Arts and the Board of Nursing was issued in 2002. Since that time, opioid abuse and addiction has spiked to levels heretofore unseen, not only in Kansas but nationwide. Accordingly, the Boards have undertaken the responsibility to craft a new policy that addresses the new reality of opioid addiction. The most recent draft of the policy circulated by the Boards emphasizes appropriate pain management for the individual patient by a team of health care providers. One of the problems facing health care providers today is the treatment of chronic and/or acute pain. The Boards recognize that many patients’ pain is improperly managed due to under- or over-prescription, or ineffective treatment. Because the reporting of symptoms of pain is subjective, the Board strives to balance the appropriate treatment of pain with the specter of drug-seeking and addictive behavior.

The Board proposes that health care providers should be wary of potential drug-seeking behavior. Recognizing the risks and the benefits of opioid prescription is critical to appropriately addressing a patient’s pain management. Health care professionals must be aware of the dangers that inure to long-term opioid use. These complications include addiction and abuse of the medication. Health care providers must understand that a patient may need opioid medication to combat pain and that a request for an increased dose is not necessary a symptom of drug dependency. It is therefore incumbent upon the health care provider to understand the signs of addictive behaviors and address those accordingly.

The draft emphasizes the growing need to investigate health care professionals who “treat pain inappropriately.” While proper investigation is necessary, the draft is very clear that a request for information concerning prescription practices does not equate with a formal complaint. To be sure, the draft stipulates that prior to filing of any allegations the information gathered during the investigation will be subject to peer review and health care providers should not “fear disciplinary actions” if they appropriately manage their patients’ pain.

Interestingly, the draft policy purports to not create a new standard of practice or claim to be a so-called “best practice.” However, the Boards’ stated intention is to delineate practices that are “within the boundaries” of professional practice and is not designed to usurp a health care provider’s judgment exercised consistent with a competent health care provider. Disclaimer notwithstanding, the Boards counsel that patients must be individually assessed for pain level, tolerance, and likelihood of recovery, and that instruments should be used to obtain an objective pain threshold. Additionally, the patient must be evaluated to determine whether the patient is a candidate to abuse prescribed narcotics. The use of baseline testing is recommended. The Board recommends using a written treatment plan and that every patient should have one health care provider who controls prescribing pain medication. The Boards counsel utilizing a written agreement with the patient who will agree to be strictly monitored while on prescribed narcotics.

Whom To Call For Help

Call Kansas professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger if you are under investigation for dispensing pain medication. Despite claims to the contrary, an investigation into your medical practice is never meaningless.  Kansas Professional Licensing Defense Attorney Sanger has the experience to vigorously defend your rights and defend you against allegations of wrong-doing. Call Attorney Sanger today at 789-979-4353 to schedule your free consultation.