Patient safety is about eliminating preventable harm. So, is the current opioid crisis – and specifically the opioid prescription crisis – a patient safety problem? What role do physician anesthesiologists play?

Some of the statistics are staggering:

What are some of the common myths surrounding prescription opioids that anesthesiologists can dispel and correct, thus making a difference in patient safety?

The CDC states that nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid. In addition, since 2003, more overdose deaths involve prescription opioid analgesics than heroin and cocaine combined. Four of five heroin initiates reported that their use began with prescription opioids.

In the 1990s and 2000s, the teaching was that the incidence of addiction was less than 1 percent for patients using opioids for short-term acute pain management. We now know that is not true. Studies...

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