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March 21, 2017

History of The Joint Commission’s Pain Standards: Lessons for Today’s Prescription Opioid Epidemic

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation, The Joint Commission, Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois
JAMA. 2017;317(11):1117-1118. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.0935

In 2000, as part of a national effort to address the widespread problem of underassessment and undertreatment of pain, The Joint Commission (formerly the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations [JCAHO]) introduced standards for organizations to improve care for patients with pain (eAppendix in the Supplement). After initial positive responses and small studies showing the benefits of following the standards, reports emerged about adverse events from overly aggressive treatment of pain. A 2002 report from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) asked, “[I]n our noble efforts to alleviate pain, has safety been compromised?”1 In response, the standards and related materials were changed to address the problems.

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