The Joint Commission (TJC) recently released new and revised pain assessment and management standards and elements of performance for its hospital accreditation program. These standards, effective January 1, 2018, follow an extensive review by TJC of current pain assessment and management guidelines compared with TJC’s standards.

Among other things, the new standards and elements of performance require TJC-accredited hospitals to do the following:

  • Identify a leader or a leadership team responsible for pain management, as well as opioid prescribing, and developing and monitoring performance improvement activities.
  • Involve patients in pain management treatment plans and in setting realistic expectations and measureable goals.
  • Identify and monitor high-risk patients with respect to opioid use.
  • Educate staff and practitioners on improving pain assessment, pain management and safe opioid use, based on the needs of the applicable patient population.
  • Screen patients for pain during emergency department visits and at the time of admission.
  • Facilitate clinician access to prescription drug monitoring databases.
  • Monitor the use of opioids and assess whether they are used safely — for example, tracking naloxone use and duration/dose of opioid prescriptions.

TJC’s updated standards and elements of performance are another indication that the health care industry is becoming more active in combating some of the negative effects that can result from opioid use.