Opioid Analgesic Stewardship in Acute Pain Clinical Care Standard

The Opioid Analgesic Stewardship in Acute Pain Clinical Care Standard describes the key components of care that patients can expect when they are prescribed opioid analgesics for acute pain in acute care settings.

Overview

Opioid analgesics are high-risk medicines, widely used in hospitals and primary care to manage pain.

This new national standard will help to ensure the appropriate use and review of opioid analgesics for the management of acute pain to optimise patient outcomes and reduce the potential for opioid-related harm in Australia.

Contents of the standard and resources

The Opioid Analgesic Stewardship in Acute Pain Clinical Care Standard contains: 

The clinical care standard provides guidance for consumers, clinicians, and health service organisations including information about what each statement means and links to additional resources.

National launch and webcast video

The Opioid Analgesic Stewardship in Acute Pain Clinical Care Standard was launched on 27 April 2022, with an event hosted by Conjoint Professor Anne Duggan, the Commission's Chief Medical Officer.

In this launch video, panellists discuss how opioid analgesic stewardship can improve the appropriateness of opioid use and reduce patient harm, while still ensuring that each patient has their pain effectively managed. Professor Duggan is joined by:

  • Conjoint Associate Professor Jennifer Stevens - Anaesthetist and Pain Medicine Specialist
  • Ms Thuy Bui - Analgesic Stewardship Pharmacist
  • Dr Andrew Sefton - Orthopaedic Surgeon
  • Dr Hester Wilson - General Practitioner and Addiction Medicine specialist.

Also appearing are Dr Jane Cook from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and Professor Villis Marshall, Chair of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care Board.

The presentation slides from the launch of the standard are also available for download:

Communications resources

A communications kit has been developed to support the release of the clinical care standard. Head to our Opioids Campaign page to download and share the content on your website, social networks or within your health service organisation.

Consultation and endorsement

The standard was developed in consultation with a topic working group comprising clinicians, researchers and a consumer representative. Public consultation on the clinical care standard took place in 2021. 

The standard is endorsed by a number of key organisations, including the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine, the Australian Orthopaedic Association and the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia.

Evidence base

Key sources that underpin the Opioid Analgesic Stewardship in Acute Pain Clinical Care Standard are current clinical guidelines including:

Background

Priority actions to reduce medication-related harm from high-risk medicines, including opioid analgesics, were identified in Australia’s response to the World Health Organization Global Patient Safety Challenge – Medication without harm (2020). One of the identified priority actions was developing a national guideline for peri-surgical management of high-risk medicines, including the:

  • Quantity prescribed on hospital discharge
  • Duration of therapy post discharge
  • Introduction of de-escalation plans as part of the hospital discharge summary, where appropriate.

Following a public consultation on prescription opioids in 2018, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) established the Opioid Regulatory Advisory Group to provide independent, expert advice to review proposed options for a regulatory response to opioid use and misuse in Australia. As a result, several opioid analgesic regulatory changes were implemented in June 2020.

In April 2020, the TGA engaged the Commission to develop a framework for a National Opioid Analgesic Stewardship program, and an accompanying clinical care standard, which together support the opioid analgesic regulatory changes. The aim of the TGA regulatory changes, the National Opioid Analgesics Stewardship program and the accompanying clinical care standard is to minimise the risk of harm associated with opioid analgesic use.


Questions?

If you have any questions about the Opioid Analgesic Stewardship in Acute Pain Clinical Care Standard please email ccs@safetyandquality.gov.au