Sep 5, 2017

News Release: Saegis and the University of Toronto Collaborate on Safer Opioid Prescribing Program

OTTAWA, September 5, 2017 — The Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA)’s recently-launched subsidiary Saegis, together with the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) office are pleased to announce a new collaboration to make “Safer Opioid Prescribing, A Multimodal Program for Chronic Pain and Opioids” available to all clinicians in Canada. 

For the first time, workshops will be offered in Saskatoon on June 14 and in Edmonton on June 21. Participants must complete the webinars before attending the workshop. The next series of webinars begins Monday, September 18. Learn more and register now for webinars.

Increasing access to high quality continuing medical education has been identified as key strategy in addressing our country’s opioid crisis. Click to see Program Details.

The program is based on the most up-to-date knowledge captured in the 2017 Canadian Guideline for Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain. It consists of a series of three live webinars and an in-person skills development workshop, and was developed without any pharmaceutical industry influence. It is aimed at assisting physicians in providing the appropriate management of chronic pain.

Program participants will:

  • develop multi-modal approaches to complex chronic pain
  • initiate and manage safe and effective opioid therapy
  • prevent and address opioid use disorder
  • develop communication and collaboration skills needed to manage opioid therapy for people living with chronic pain

“The CMPA and Saegis recognize that caring effectively for patients who have chronic, non-cancer pain is a complex challenge for physicians,” said Dr. Hartley Stern, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the CMPA and Chairperson of the Saegis Board. “Physicians have a responsibility to provide proper pain management, and are encouraged to take opioid education sessions to reduce their medical-legal risk and improve patient safety.” 

Management of opioids to treat chronic pain can present significant patient safety concerns and is an increasing medical-legal difficulty for Canadian doctors. Canada ranks only second to the United States in the per capita consumption of prescription opioids. In 2015, Canadian physicians wrote enough prescriptions for one in every two Canadians.

Between 2010 and 2015, the CMPA handled 151 medical-legal cases involving allegations of patient harm related to opioid prescribing. These cases mostly involved opioids prescribed for chronic pain. In these cases, most often physicians were criticized for their failure to assess patients appropriately for indications related to opioids. Inadequate assessments usually occurred at opioid initiation, prescription renewal, and when increasing dosages. In some cases, the prescribing of opioids at the same time as other medications such as benzodiazepines and psychotropic medications has resulted in an increased rate of over sedation, respiratory failure and death.

“Having just observed International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31st, we are very pleased to jointly provide this course with Saegis to improve opioid prescribing,” said Dr. Suzan Schneeweiss, Associate Dean CPD. “Safer Opioid Prescribing has already supported more than 600 physicians to develop the knowledge, tools and skills to treat chronic non-cancer pain safely, effectively and compassionately.  This innovative and award-winning program is amongst the first in the country to address the new 2017 Canadian Guidelines for Opioid for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain.”

“Saegis is committed to collaborating with Continuing Professional Development at the University of Toronto to facilitate safer opioid prescribing and improve patient care,” added Dr. Stern. “Supporting physicians as they provide care to patients is an important step in effectively addressing the opioid crisis.” 

Download a pdf of the press release.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Christina Flavell
Marketing and Communications
T: 613-729-7765 x832


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