NQF Issues Critical Guidance to Support Safer Opioid Prescribing 

MAR 08, 2018

CONTACT: Sofia Kosmetatos

NQF Issues Critical Guidance to Support Safer Opioid Prescribing

Washington, DC—The National Quality Forum (NQF) today released an urgently needed guide to support safe and appropriate opioid prescribing to manage patients’ pain. The National Quality Partners Playbook™: Opioid Stewardship provides strategies for healthcare organizations and clinicians across practice settings and specialties of care.

The opioid epidemic in America is one of the most urgent public health threats facing the nation today. According to CDC, more than 46 Americans die each day from a prescription opioid-related overdose—a more than four-fold increase since 1999. NQF’s National Quality Partners™ (NQP™) galvanized NQF member organizations and other key public- and private-sector healthcare stakeholders to turn the tide on this national priority.

“The NQP Playbook provides a plan to help address the nation’s devastating opioid epidemic,” said Shantanu Agrawal, MD, MPhil, president and CEO, National Quality Forum. “It is a critically important resource for our nation’s frontline clinicians to use as they consider pain management strategies with patients.”

“This work will help the medical community start to shift direction in terms of the ways well-intended pain treatments affect our patients, families, clinicians and communities,” said Paul Conlon, PharmD, JD, senior vice president, chief quality and patient safety, Trinity Health, and co-chair of the NQP Opioid Stewardship Action Team. “It is an important step that will help us establish urgency around developing a comprehensive program for better pain treatment—one that will lead to sustainable approaches to preventing and mitigating against our current national substance abuse emergency.”

The NQP Playbook identifies fundamental actions to support high-quality, sustainable opioid stewardship, including:

  • promoting healthcare leadership commitment and implementation of organizational policies that support opioid stewardship;
  • advancing clinical knowledge, expertise, and practice in pain management and opioid prescribing guidelines;
  • engaging patients and family caregivers in discussions about the risks and benefits of pain management strategies, especially the use of opioids;
  • tracking, monitoring, and reporting performance data on opioid stewardship and pain management;
  • establishing accountability for promoting, establishing, and maintaining a culture of opioid stewardship; and,
  • supporting community collaboration to achieve maximum impact.

The NQP Playbook includes concrete examples and tactics for implementation, identifies barriers and corresponding solutions, and connects clinicians to important tools and resources that are applicable across care settings. Implementation examples are organized into basic, intermediate, and advanced to allow organizations with varying levels of resources and expertise to identify opportunities for action. The intent is for organizations to determine which approach best fits their individual efforts and community needs.

NQF developed the NQP Playbook with input from the NQP Opioid Stewardship Action Team, whose members served as technical consultants and contributors. The more than 40 public- and private-sector experts and national stakeholders who served on the Action Team include patient partners, clinicians, healthcare organizations, pharmacists, pain management experts, community-based organizations, and federal agencies.

The NQP Playbook: Opioid Stewardship will be available for download on March 12, 2018. A summary of the guide is available on NQF's website. NQF will host a public webinar on opioid stewardship on March 29 and a fully accredited, one-day workshop on May 1 for clinicians and healthcare quality leaders to learn about implementing the NQP Playbook.

On March 12, NQF also will release a new guide to improve shared decision making between patients and clinicians. The NQP Playbook™: Shared Decision Making in Healthcare offers vital guidance for communication between clinicians and patients as they work together to make healthcare decisions, including strategies to manage pain.


About NQF

The National Quality Forum is the nation’s resource for healthcare quality measurement and improvement. NQF is an independent, not-for-profit, membership-based organization that brings healthcare stakeholders together to recommend quality measures and improvement strategies that reduce costs and help patients get better care.

About NQP

National Quality Partners™ (NQP™), an NQF initiative, is an active forum for NQF members to connect, collaborate, and provide thought leadership on quality improvement strategies to achieve national health and healthcare quality goals. NQP leads practical, action-oriented initiatives to drive meaningful and lasting change for patients and their families. Learn more at ​www.qualityforum.org​.