Statewide Adoption of NCMB Opioid Prescribing Policy
Current Opioid Prescribing Policy: The NC Medical Board updated its policy for the use of opioids for the treatment of pain in January 2017. In order to provide its licensees with guidance that reflects the most current medical and scientific research and recommended practices, the Board has decided to adopt and endorse the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain written and maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”). While these guidelines do not constitute regulations or necessarily state the standard of care in North Carolina in every context, the Board’s believes that these guidelines can provide useful information to licensees related to the appropriate considerations to be made prior to and during treatment plans involving opioids.
The Board notes that a failure to provide opioid treatment consistent with the standard of care in North Carolina may subject a licensee to disciplinary action by the Board.
Background: Section 12F.16.(a) of Session Law 2015-241 required certain state health provider licensing boards and health agencies within state government to adopt the NCMB policy by July 1, 2016. This decision was motivated in part by a 2014 report to the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee. The report concluded that NC needs to strengthen its monitoring and prevention of prescription opioid abuse and specifically noted that NC prescribers lack clear, authoritative standards for treating pain with prescription opioid medications.
Adopted in June 2014, the NCMB opioid prescribing policy, Policy for the Use of Opiates for the Treatment of Pain provides detailed guidance for clinicians seeking to provide appropriate patient care to individuals with a legitimate need for treatment while following accepted best practices to prevent abuse, misuse and diversion of opioid painkillers.
Further, the 2016 law directed that the following State health agencies and health care provider licensing boards adopt NCMB’s opioid prescribing policy:
- NC Medical Board
- NC Board of Dental Examiners
- NC Board of Nursing
- NC Board of Podiatry Examiners
- NC Division of Public Health
- NC Division of Medical Assistance
- NC Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services
- NC Division of Public Safety (Medical, Dental and Mental Health Services)
Required Continuing Education on Safer Opioid Prescribing
Another portion of the same law, Section 12F.16(b) directs the licensing boards to require continuing education on the use of controlled substances for health care providers who prescribe controlled substances. It further specifies “at least one hour of the total required continuing education hours consists of a course designed specifically to address prescribing practices. The course shall include, but not be limited to, instruction on controlled substance prescribing practices and controlled substance prescribing for chronic pain management.”
NC Medical Board
The NCMB Safer Opioid Prescribing Page provides resources including:
Clinical guidance documents
- NCMB Policy on the use of opiates for the treatment of pain
- CDC Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for the Treatment of Pain
- Summary of the STOP Act
- NCMB’s Safe Opioid Prescribing Initiative (new investigative program)
- Further clarification of NCMB’s Safe Opioid Prescribing Initiative
NC Board of Dental Examiners
NC Board of Nursing
Clinical Guidance Documents
NCMB Policy on the use of opiates for the treatment of pain
NC Board of Podiatry Examiners
Clinical guidance documents
- NCMBE Opioid Training Memo (2/25/16)