John P. McGovern, M.D. Award Lecture in the Medical Humanities
Responsible Pain Medicine During a Drug Overdose Epidemic
Thursday, October 22, 2020
12:00pm - 1:00pm
Travis N. Rieder, PhD
Assistant Director of Education Initiatives &
Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics
America’s most serious problem with prescription opioids is not the one that immediately comes to mind. It’s not just that they’re killing people. The problem is that opioids are both dangerous and highly effective at treating some kinds of severe pain. This means that the healthcare system needs to utilize opioid analgesia, but in the midst of a drug overdose epidemic, that same system is afraid of these medications. The result is that clinicians risk undertreating pain (out of fear of opioids) and overprescribing opioids (because they want to be able to treat pain). In this talk, bioethicist and author Travis Rieder will use his own experience as a trauma patient to underscore the nature of this problem, and then explore some of the gaps in pain treatment, as well as how clinicians—and institutions—can close those gaps.