Skip to main content

Oregon State Flag An official website of the State of Oregon »

Pain Management

Decades ago, pain became the fifth vital sign. Clinicians prescribed opiates liberally, aiming to alleviate all pain. But an unintended consequence occurred. Some patients developed dependence and addiction, and people died of overdoses and sedative symbiosis.

As a result, prescribing controlled substances became tightly constrained. As an unintended consequence of this shift away from liberal prescribing, some patients have been indiscriminately terminated from well-tolerated medical treatments.

On November 3, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its guidelines for pain management. See: CDC Clinical Practice Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Pain and Factsheet: CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.

Oregon Medical Board licensees are advised to read the guidelines and familiarize themselves with the standard of care, specifically the expectation for individualized, shared decision making. Prescribers should conduct a patient-centered evaluation when determining appropriate Morphine Equivalent Dose (MED) limitations for each unique patient. Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) checks and detailed counseling conversations with patients – and documentation of these – are still critically important. The risks versus benefits of opioid treatment for chronic pain and frequency of drug screens are to be considered on a case-specific basis. The new guidance makes clear the ongoing assessment and documentation of the benefits of opiates and all controlled substances versus the risks and side effects is still of paramount importance.

Finally, additional resources are available to assist licensees in providing the best patient care available, particularly as it relates to prescribing for chronic pain. Experts in the field are readily willing to support and advise other Oregon physicians and physician associates in working to meet the needs of patients in our communities. 

- Adopted January 1993
- Amended April 1999; July 2004; April 2011; January 2013; April 2016; July 2021; January 4, 2024