Opioid use disorder (OUD) is a major health challenge in the United States and is increasingly recognized as an important comorbidity in people living with serious illness. In 2020, there were 93,000 overdose deaths; a 20% increase from the prior year, and the most overdose deaths ever recorded in a single year. Individuals with OUD face additional barriers in accessing pain treatment. Palliative care clinicians regularly care for people who are at risk of developing OUD, or have a history of OUD or active substance use—though often with inadequate knowledge and tools needed to help shepherd their patients through their illness journeys.

In this Master Clinician session, Katie Fitzgerald Jones, MSN, APN, and Zachary Sager, MD, will present a case and work through the challenges of screening and diagnosing OUD. They will cover the benefits and limitations of using validated screening tools, and how clinicians can apply a “universal precautions” approach to ensure the safety and quality of life of their patients. Additionally, by the end of the session, participants will understand how chronic pain, opioid use disorder, and serious illness interact in unique ways.


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