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Arizona physicians taking new course on opioid prescription guidelines

(Public Domain Photo)

PHOENIX — Before a traffic law changes, there are generally weeks and months of information and education distributed to drivers before changes go into effect.

But what about other laws?

That was Peter Wertheim’s concern as opioid laws began to change following Gov. Doug Ducey’s 2017 opioid epidemic emergency declaration.

Wertheim is the executive director of the Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association and has spent the past several years working as a lobbyist in opioid prescription reform legislation.

“We needed something to explain what the laws are and what they’re not,” he said. “And also give them the tools to be more effective in their prescribing of opioids and even better if they can be a partner in the recovery efforts.”

As the laws began to change, he saw the rapid need for continued education. That’s when the Arizona Department of Health Services awarded him the State Targeted Response Grant to create the Arizona Opioid Prescriber Education platform.

“There is training on the opioid prescribing guidelines,” Wertheim said. “So we give them the tools to not just ‘What are the laws?’ but what are the best ways to prescribe opioids.”

The 1 1/2-hour online program counts toward annual Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits for health care professionals in the state. The course is accredited for all types of physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and pharmacists.

“They’re self-paced courses; we have multiple speakers,” Wertheim said. “It’s interactive. There’s a quiz before and after the program to make sure we’re reinforcing the important takeaways.”

The platform was designed in conjunction with Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions.

“I think this is going to go a long way to, kind of, bridging the information gaps that we’ve seen,” Wertheim said. “Providers need to know that it’s OK to prescribe opioids but here are some guidelines for how to do it in the most effective way so we don’t have patients that are becoming addicted and so they’re complying with the law.”

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