Pharmacy professionals have an obligation to ensure patients are informed of the potential risks and benefits of their therapy. This is particularly important when it comes to opioid use, especially considering the ongoing opioid crisis and the potential for misuse, addiction and overdose.
While patient counselling is obviously an integral component of education for patients and/or their caregivers, they may be overwhelmed, in pain or otherwise distracted during the conversation with the pharmacist, or a previous conversation with their prescriber, to recall all that was discussed. It may be helpful for pharmacy professionals to make patients aware of the resources that are available to them.
Many of these resources can and should also be posted in the pharmacy to enable maximum awareness.
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Poster and Brochure - Prescription Pain Medication: Know the Potential Risks of Opioid Use
These have been developed by the Ministry to help educate patients about prescription opioid use. They cover information on what an opioid is, what they are used for, signs of opioid addiction and opioid overdose and brief information on naloxone. The Ministry has requested that the poster and/or the brochures are available in pharmacies. Learn more and order copies.
Health Quality Ontario: Patient Reference Guides on Opioid Standards
Health Quality Ontario has created quality standards that outline for clinicians and patients what quality care looks like for opioid prescribing for acute pain, opioid prescribing for chronic pain and opioid use disorder. To accompany these standards, they have created patient guides so that patients, families and caregivers know what to discuss about their care with healthcare professionals. Access the Patient Guide on Opioid Prescribing for Acute Pain, the Patient Guide on Opioid Prescribing for Chronic Pain, and the Patient Guide on Opioid Use Disorder.
Health Canada: Awareness Resources for Opioids
Health Canada makes a variety of resources – videos, posters, wallet cards – available on their website. These include resources on Opioids 101 as well as preventing overdose and addiction. It also includes handy resources on what to do when you suspect someone has overdosed on opioids. View and download the resources from Health Canada.
Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP): Resources for Patients
ISMP makes available three easy to understand handouts for patients. One focuses on the general risks and side effects of opioids and clearly lays out the potential signs of an overdose. An additional handout focuses on preventing medication accidents with opioids, with three clear steps to follow. Recently, ISMP and other groups produced a handout on Opioids for Pain After Surgery that highlights five questions that patients may have when taking an opioids following surgery. View the resources at OpioidStewardship.ca.
Choosing Wisely: Opioids: When You Need Them – and When You Don’t
Choosing Wisely Canada, a national campaign to help clinicians and patients engage in conversations about unnecessary tests and treatments, has created a fact sheet for patients on opioid use, including potential serious side effects and risks. The handout explores whether opioids might be appropriate for three common situations and provides a list of other pain treatments that patients may want to try in place of opioids. Access the handout at the Choosing Wisely Canada website.
Resources for Pharmacy Professionals
Looking for opioid-related resources to improve your own knowledge and practice? Be sure to check the College’s Opioid Practice Tool as we add new resources regularly. Additionally, the College maintains a list of continuing education opportunities for pharmacy professionals, including a category specifically related to opioids.