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The Federation of State Medical Boards Research and Education Foundation (FSMB), in conjunction with Maine's Board of Licensure in Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Licensure, is giving every physician statewide a new tool to help them better manage patients' acute or chronic pain. Responsible Opioid Prescribing: A Physician's Guide offers real-world explanations and practical strategies that address issues of undertreatment of pain, risk of prescription drug abuse, and improved patient care. "State medical boards have been very aggressive about adopting guidelines for controlled substances," said Lisa Robin, senior vice president of Member Services for the FSMB. "At the same time, physicians need useful steps that will help them better manage their patients' pain. This handbook bridges the gap between guidelines and practice and is an important resource to improve patients' quality of life."


Based on FSMB's Model Policy for the Use of Controlled Substances for the Treatment of Pain, the handbook recommends steps for


* Developing effective patient evaluation


* Creating a function-based treatment plan with actionable patient goals


* Obtaining a written patient-physician agreement that includes informed consent and significant patient education


* Overseeing periodic review that focuses on progress toward functional goals


* Making specialist referrals and managing difficult patients


* Creating and maintaining clear, consistent, transparent, and detailed documentation


* Remaining up-to-date on federal and state-controlled substance policies



"The undertreatment of pain is recognized as a serious public health problem that results in a decrease in patients' functional status and quality of life," said Susan Strout, executive director of the Maine Board of Osteopathic Licensure. "With recommendations that include incorporating functional goals into treatment plans, physicians and their patients are better able to assess progress and ensure pain is better managed."


Written by Scott M. Fishman, MD, chief of the Division of Pain Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, University of California, Davis, the handbook was overseen by an advisory board of leaders in pain medicine, relevant nonprofit organizations, and state and national government regulatory agencies. Additional training for physicians will be provided this year through an education program sponsored by Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In addition, practice specific training through a contract with the Maine Medical Association is already available. Dates and locations will be announced soon.


FSMB is providing physicians additional pain management resources through its new related Web site,, which offers many resources and tools, including


* Updated pain policies and regulations for each state


* Links to updated information from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Food and Drug Administration


* Pain assessment tools



Maine is one of the first states to participate in this new FSMB initiative. The FSMB Research and Education Foundation will provide state medical boards with print copies of the book to distribute to the approximately 750,000 licensed physicians in the United States on a state-by-state basis, as funds are raised. The handbooks can be customized to include state-specific policies, rules and regulations, and statutes.


The Federation of State Medical Boards is a national not-for-profit organization representing the 70 medical boards of the United States and its territories. The FSMB's mission is to continuously improve the quality, safety, and integrity of healthcare by developing and promoting high standards for physician licensure and practice.