CRS Report Lists Policy Options for Increasing Physician Training Education in Proper Opioid Prescribing

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) recently published a short “insight” report, Policy Options to Increase Physician Training Education in Proper Opioid Prescribing.  It responds to the recommendation of the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis to mandate "medical education and prescriber education initiatives in proper opioid prescribing and risks of developing an SUD [Substance Use Disorder]."

The report discusses why federal efforts to mandate such education may be limited. For example, because physician licensing occurs at the state level, the federal government cannot mandate that certain training be required for licensure. The report also notes that states have made efforts to increase provider education about prescribing opioids, for example, by requiring continuing education courses in pain management for physicians licensed in that state.  However, as the report notes, the federal government could still use a range of policy levers to promote or incentivize prescriber education on proper opioid prescribing.

Associate Research Professor Naomi Seiler noted that these federal and state efforts are important, when rooted in evidence-based guidelines.  However, she emphasized that they should not stand alone:  “It's also crucial that providers learn about a full range of comprehensive pain management approaches, along with how to screen for, and treat, substance use disorder without stigma."