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Doctors Duty When Prescribing Opioids

Are you a Doctor that prescribes opioids?  If so be sure to follow the Model Policy or Risk Professional Discipline

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation “IDFPR”, adopted into its Medical Practice Act the Federation of State Medical Board’s Model Policy on the Use of Opioid Analgesics in the Treatment of Chronic Pain effective July 6, 2018. Physicians who deviate from these guidelines are now explicitly subject to discipline by IDFPR.

The change stems from a recent Executive Order establishing the Governor Rauner’s Opioid Prevention and Intervention Task Office, which mandates IDFPR to establish opioid prescribing guidelines (EO 2017-05) . It comes on the heels of the January 1, 2018 law requiring opioid prescribers to register with and use the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), a database operated by IDFPR that records patient prescription history, in an effort to decrease “doctor-shopping.”

In adopting this Model Policy, the Medical Board is putting physicians on notice that deviations from the Model Policy are now explicitly cause for discipline. The new language in the Medical Practice Act falls under the heading “Dishonorable, Unethical or Unprofessional Conduct” (Title 68, Section 1285.240(a) Standards).

The Model Policy contains criteria for evaluating a clinician’s management of a patient with pain, including the clinician’s prescribing of opioid analgesics. It includes the recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain and adds the Federation’s own recommendations as well.

The Model Policy was updated in May 2017 and includes criteria for use by state medical boards in the following areas:

  • Patient assessments, evaluations and ongoing monitoring;
  • Use of treatment agreements;
  • Query to state prescription drug monitoring programs;
  • Decision to initiate and discontinue opioid therapy;
  • Concurrent use of benzodiazepines and opioids; and
  • Prescribing naloxone and methadone.

The Illinois Appellate Court recently upheld IDFPR’s suspension of a doctor’s medical license based on the doctor’s ongoing treatment of a patient with opiate addition (Thomas v. IDFPR, 2017 IL App (1st) 161660-U).

Illinois physicians must not only manage chronic pain responsibly with their patients, they also have a codified duty to assess whether opioid analgesics, when prescribed by them, are being abused, misused or diverted. Prescribing practices will stay under state agency microscopes as long as our nation continues to suffer the opioid epidemic.

If you have any questions about how you can advertise and whether you are in compliance with Illinois law, give 1818 a call.

The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not make a decision whether or not to contact an attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.

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