The American College of Surgeons (ACS) Division of Advocacy and Health Policy and Division of
Education Patient Education Committee jointly developed the following Statement on the Opioid Abuse
Epidemic. The ACS Board of Regents approved the statement at its June 2017 meeting in Chicago, IL.
The use and abuse of both prescription and illicit drugs has increased dramatically in recent years
and has become a major public health concern.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of overdose deaths involving
opioids, both prescription and heroin, has quadrupled
since 1999. Coinciding with this increase, the sale of
prescription opioids nearly quadrupled from 1999 to
2014. A most alarming result of these practices is the
increased accessibility of addictive opioids.
Surgeons have a responsibility to minimize their
patients’ postoperative pain while addressing the societal imperative to avoid overprescribing. There has
been wide variation in the limits and restrictions placed
on prescribers by payors and state legislatures. Many
of the proposed policies will have a significant impact
on patient safety and the way surgeons prescribe opioids and may expose specific patient populations to
The ACS is committed to helping to prevent opioid
abuse and addiction in surgical patients. The College’s
guiding principles are as follows:
•Promote the use of prescription drug monitoring pro-
Statement on the Opioid Abuse Epidemic
grams (PDMPs) through the following activities:
Ȗ Set expectation that PDMPs are fully functional and
interoperable with electronic health records
Ȗ Establish state/federal grant programs to enhance
Ȗ Reduce barriers to PDMP access by nonphysician
licensed independent practitioners and physicians’
Surgeons have a responsibility to
minimize their patients’ postoperative
pain while addressing the societal
imperative to avoid overprescribing.