Opioid medications are used to treat pain. Opioids are also known as narcotics. In recent years more and more Canadians are using opioids, and research indicates that we are now the world's second largest consumer of opioids. Along with this increased use of opioids there has also been a corresponding and alarming increase in the harm from opioids.
Through our ongoing analysis of medication safety incidents, we have found that opioids are frequently associated with harmful consequences-including death-when they are prescribed, used or administered incorrectly or in error.
Opioid Stewardship may be described as coordinated interventions designed to improve, monitor, and evaluate the use of opioids in order to support and protect human health. This web page has been developed to help the public and health care practitioners become better informed about opioids and to help reduce and prevent harm.
Patients and Families
Endorsements: Best Practice in Surgery, Canadian Association of General Surgeons, Canadian Orthopaedic Association, Mackenzie Health, North York General Hospital, Ontario Health, Saskatchewan Health Authority, Sinai Health System, University Health Network, University of Toronto, Winchester District Memorial Hospital
Methadone for Opioid Use Disorder
Buprenorphine/Naloxone (Suboxone) for Opioid Use Disorder
Opioid Prescribing Supports:
Opioid Prescribing Tools:
Pain Check In: The Pain Check In is a structured approach to information gathering using pre-existing instruments that will give prescribers better information with which to assess the pain patient and engage in collaborative decision making. The tool helps to standardize some of the information collected during pain related visits and addresses a lack of consistency in how clinicians approach pain related visits. The Pain Check In allows the patient to complete a series of paper or electronic forms in the waiting room prior to the visit that can be placed in the paper chart, or EMR. The physician can then review the information in order to facilitate sound decisions about pain management.
ISMP Canada Safety Bulletins and Other Resources for Healthcare Providers:
Information for Hospitals:
Information for Long-term Care Homes:
Information for community-based care providers:
Information related to specific medications (in alphabetical order):
Storage and Disposal
Additional Resources and Projects
Additional collaborative projects and resources related to safe management of opioids:
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