Physician Leadership to End the Epidemic

Physicians demonstrate leadership everyday to help their patients with a substance use disorder–or chronic pain. Learn more.

Advocating for forgotten populations during COVID-19

Homelessness, incarceration and opioid use disorder present unique challenges for the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic, write three public health physicians in the April 21, 2020 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. As policymakers c

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AMA Opioid Task Force Chair Patrice Harris, MD, MA, discusses current state of the overdose epidemic

The newly released AMA Opioid Task Force report shows a dramatic increase in fatalities involving illicit opioids, stimulants (e.g., methamphetamine), heroin and cocaine and a similarly dramatic drop in the use of prescription opioids. Illicit drugs are now the dominant reason why drug overdoses kill more than 70,000 people each year, according to the U.S. […]

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Providing individualized pain care during COVID in West Virginia

West Virginia has suffered greatly as a result of the nation’s opioid-related overdose and death epidemic, but one West Virginia pain management clinic is embracing a “whole person” approach to help ensure patients receive optimal, individualized care. While pain care is often fragmented for the patient due to numerous barriers and inconsistent care protocols, we […]

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Advocating for additional changes to help hospice, palliative care patients during COVID-19

For patients who are bed-ridden or in the final days of their life, it may be next to impossible for a hospice and palliative care physician to conduct an in-person evaluation to satisfy state and federal rules for prescribing controlled substances. While the authors of a new commentary in Health Affairs acknowledge that the U.S. […]

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Emergency physician and LGBTQ advocate leading innovations to help end opioid epidemic

The way patients in the Transgender Surgery Center are cared for at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York City has led to some innovative revelations to help end the nation’s opioid epidemic. “Gender affirmation surgery is a significant and invasive surgery and the last thing we want is to treat the gender dysphoria but […]

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First-generation physician bridges gap between the ED and long-term SUD care

Aakash Shah, MD’s journey to become an emergency medicine physician started with a report card in a brown paper envelope. “My parents arrived in the United States with only $20 in their pockets and the name of a family friend they had never met,” said Dr. Shah. “They wanted me to have a better future, […]

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Saving time and lives by increased access to MAT in Pennsylvania

“There was no reason for the delay,” said Dr. Gallagher. “She simply wanted to get into a methadone clinic as quickly as possible for herself and her baby.” Once he and his staff finally got through to someone who could approve a prior-authorization request, it took only a few minutes, and Dr. Gallagher could then […]

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Fighting stigma and building a career treating substance use disorders

When Alena Balasanova, MD, began her psychiatry residency at Boston University, she encountered patients with SUD the way all too many people do—with judgment: “I wanted to treat patients with depression and anxiety—I didn’t sign up to treat people with a drug addiction, I held some very stigmatizing beliefs.” Over the course of her residency, […]

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One resident’s commitment to advocating for pregnant patients with opioid use disorder

Even though maternal and fetal medicine fellow Tani Malhotra, MD, knows that the stigma of substance use disorder runs deep, she knows that it’s her professional responsibility to not only have difficult conversations with her patients—but also to speak up for her patients to policymakers. “Many of my patients feel like their medical disease is […]

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Emergency department innovation increases access to care for patients with opioid use disorder

Access to treatment for opioid use disorder remains a challenge for most Americans, but there are programs in Chicago and Denver where pilot programs are showing success. Steven Aks, DO, in Chicago, and Jason Hoppe, DO, in Colorado are reaching past their traditional roles of emergency care to establish warm-handoff programs for patients with an […]

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After his son’s death, Massachusetts physician seeks to help others

When James Baker, MD’s, son Max died, the local headlines read: “Son of a doctor who couldn’t find help.” Max Baker had struggled with heroin addiction since he was 17—going in and out of treatment with periods of recovery. He and his family had struggled over the years to find the right treatment program for […]

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Prior authorization of non-opioid pain care prolongs patient suffering

A patient on long-term opioid therapy for the treatment of back pain was successfully tapered off all opioids after Illinois anesthesiologist David Walega, MD, implanted a temporary spinal cord stimulator (SCS) during a 10-day trial period. Objectively she was able to increase her quality time with her young children and husband, she was able to […]

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Reforming pain management education for the next generation of physicians

After seven years in private practice, Rachel Franklin, MD, returned to where she finished her residency in family medicine and saw a need to improve the way the family medicine center treated its pain patients. She started from the ground up. Taking on the role of medical director at the University of Oklahoma College of […]

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Expanding access to pain and addiction treatment in rural Missouri

As a resident at Bronx Lebanon Hospital in New York City, Kurt Bravata, MD frequently treated drug and alcohol-addicted patients and thought he understood the harsh realities these patients faced. Then he moved to a small town in rural Missouri. “The area code for Bolivar, MO, where I practice is 417, which is also the […]

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Removing prior authorization for MAT results in more patient care

The AMA Opioid Task Force strongly supports removing barriers that stand between patients and MAT for opioid-use disorder (OUD). Prior authorization for MAT has potentially dangerous consequences for patients who are forced to delay care or are denied treatment because of administrative barriers. Yngvild Olsen, MD, MPH, who is a member of the Maryland State Medical Society […]

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