The Ethics of Nonconsensual Opioid Tapers/Discontinuations and Appropriate Tapering Strategies

Reductions in opioid prescribing has been a key component to improving opioid safety with tremendous progress over the past decade.  This has not always been carried out in a person-centered compassionate way, however, leading to serious and potentially catastrophic outcomes.  This session will discuss how to taper appropriately and engage in shared decision-making with patients and the ethics of nonconsensual or forced opioid tapers/discontinuations and emerging data on harms.  This will be an interactive session with specific examples of complicated cases often seen by frontline providers to make the course more applicable for attendees.

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Timothy J. Atkinson, PharmD

National Program Manager, Pain/Opioid Pharmacy Program Specialist
VHA Pain Management, Opioid Safety, PDMP (PMOP)
Murfreesboro, TN

Timothy J Atkinson, PharmD, BCPS, CPE is a Clinical Pharmacy Practitioner in Pain Management at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Tennessee Valley Healthcare System (TVHS). Dr. Atkinson specializes in high-risk chronic pain management and comorbid OUD and pain and his practice has won national awards for innovation and excellence. Dr. Atkinson is passionate about training the next generation of pain pharmacists and is the Director for the PGY2 Pain Management & Palliative Care Residency Program at TVHS. Dr. Atkinson engages in several roles nationally within VA to represent and promote pain pharmacy activities including: The Clinical Pharmacy Practice Office (CPPO) Pain Subject Matter Expert Workgroup, Chair of the VHA Pharmacy Residency Practice Office (PRPO) Pain Residency Program Director Subgroup, and he represents pain on the VA National PRPO Pharmacy Residency Advisory Board. In these roles, Dr. Atkinson has successfully secured two large pain residency expansions across the United States allowing VA to train the majority of pharmacy pain specialists each year. Dr. Atkinson contributes to the literature often and serves as peer reviewer for several journals and as Section Editor for opioids and substance use for the Journal of Pain Research.

Friedhelm Sandbrink, MD

National Executive Director
VHA Pain Management, Opioid Safety, PDMP (PMOP)
Murfreesboro, TN


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