Securing a patient's informed consent for the use of opioids in pain management is a crucial step in therapy. Informed consent gives a patient a sense of self-determination in his or her own treatment, and it's a means of full disclosure of the benefits and risks of opioid therapy. Not only does informed consent foster a dialogue between provider and patient, it also protects the clinician and the clinic should a legal disagreement occur in the future. For more discussion about informed consent, visit the IHS risk management site.
Attention Indian Health Service providers: IHS policy requires informed consent for non-cancer, chronic pain patients who are prescribed opioids.
In addition to informed consent, a provider should pursue a patient-provider agreement for opioid therapy that builds mutual understanding and provides a roadmap for treatment. The patient-provider agreement should give the patient a clear understanding of what's expected of him or her, such as:
- Staying within the boundaries of the agreed-upon therapy;
- Disclosing any problems experienced during the therapy; and
- Using and storing medications and prescriptions in a legal, responsible manner.
You’ll find on this page a sample informed consent [PDF - 84 KB] for pain management and a sample patient-provider agreement [PDF - 94 KB]. Feel free to use them and amend them to suit your practice or clinic. But, don’t begin pain management treatment without them.
Webster, Lynn R. Pain Management Today. American Pain Foundation, 2010.
Fishman, MD, Scott M. Responsible Opioid Prescribing: A Physician’s Guide. Washington, DC: Waterford Life Sciences, 2007. pp. 45–52.