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ACEP applauds HHS proposal to remove pain question from patient surveys

The association president stated the pursuit of high patient-satisfaction can lead to unnecessary and even harmful treatments


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Photo courtesy ACEP

WASHINGTON — In response to a proposal by Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to remove pain questions from various CMS Patient Experience of Care surveys, the president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, Jay Kaplan, MD, FACEP, released the following statement:

“ACEP commends Secretary Burwell’s proposal to remove pain management questions from patient satisfaction surveys. These questions have been used to influence Medicare reimbursement rates and have resulted in unintended consequences in light of the nation’s opioid epidemic. The pursuit of high patient-satisfaction scores can create incentives for medical providers to honor patient requests for unnecessary and even harmful treatments. The HHS proposal will align federal policies to be consistent with current efforts to reduce opioid use.”

“Emergency physicians see first-hand the devastating consequences of drug misuse and abuse, and we are committed to working with the federal government and the house of medicine to reduce opioid addiction in America. More than 136 million patients visit the nation’s emergency departments annually, and about 42 percent of those visits are related to legitimate pain issues. We need to ensure that patients with pain are cared for in a compassionate way at the same time that we work to decrease the number of patients who become dependent on prescription medications. Efforts to date have shown that the largest percentage drop in opioid-prescribing rates among medical specialties occurred in emergency medicine between 2007 and 2012 [American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2015]. Emergency physicians write less than 5 percent of all opioid prescriptions in the United States, and most are for only a few pills at a time — enough to last until a patient can see an outpatient medical provider.”