New guidelines released to combat opioid epidemic call on doctors, hospitals to join fight
published on March 6, 2018 by Trevor Wilhelm in Windsor Star
The opioid crisis is eclipsing the death rate from the peak of the AIDS epidemic, and it’s time for family doctors and emergency departments to step up, according to a new set of national guidelines for treating addiction.
With the death rate from the opioid crisis surpassing the height of the AIDS epidemic, it’s time for family doctors and emergency departments to step up, according to a new set of national guidelines for treating addiction.
The benchmark, called “management of opioid use disorders: a national clinical practice guideline,” was published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The authors lament that overdose victims are revived in emergency departments and sent home with no follow up; there is a medication that can save lives, and hardly anyone uses it.
For a Windsor addictions specialist already advocating for what the CMAJ suggests, the guidelines have been a long time coming.
“At last, we are now beginning to counter the results of the most ghastly failed experiment of using very high doses of opiates to counter chronic, malignant pain,” said Tony Hammer, an addictions doctor at the Erie-St. Clair Clinic. “The experiment was a disaster because the risks outweighed the benefits.”
“We explored the highest doses we could with no limit, raising the expectation that we were capable of conquering pain. We now know we couldn’t.”
The Public Health Agency of Canada reported in December that there were 2,861 opioid-related deaths in 2016. Preliminary statistics for the first half of 2017 suggest a grim new record with the number of deaths likely to surge past 4,000.