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Update 2024: Pain Management for the Michigan Correctional Nurse

According to the 2023 Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Opioide Annual Report, Michigan has a serious problem with prescription drug misuse, most notably, opioids and benzodiazepines, but the incidences of overdose has steadily improved when compared to national statistics.  In fact, Michigan went from having the highest rate of fatal overdoses in the US, to below the national average in 2022.

Data from the Michigan Overdose Data to Action Dashboard indicates that there were 2738 overdose deaths in 2020; in 2021 there were 2920 overdose deaths; in 2022 there were 2998 overdose deaths and  from January to October 2023, there were 2363 overdose deaths.  The Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS) data includes that  prescription opioid units dispensed was 17,538,316 in 2022 (latest data available) which was approximately 1% less than 2021.  More data is available, including statistics by county, at the website entitled opioid resources.

In addition there has been an increase in the use of synthetic opioids, including fentanyl and carfentanil.  These drugs are considered stronger than other opioids, and are often mixed with heroin, and it is theorized that this mix is likely contributing to the increased overdoses occurring in Michigan and elsewhere.

There is a wide disparity in the amount and type of pain treatment provided in the community and in the correctional environment. The nature of incarceration makes some non-pharmacologic therapies that might normally be recommended difficult to support.  Pharmacological treatments may also be very challenging in our environment.  In this class, the pathophysiology of pain, the different types of pain, and the common medications used in the treatment of pain will be discussed.  In addition, the role of the correctional nurse in pain management of the incarcerated patient will be discussed.  This class satisfies the Michigan Board of Nursing’s criteria for a class in pain that is required of all nurses every two years prior to re-licensure.