Newswise — CHICAGO – In comments submitted to the federal government, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) formally supported the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Pain Management Best Practices Interagency Task Force. Last year, the Task Force released a draft report on acute and chronic pain management best practice recommendations and accepted public comments through April 1.

ASA was gratified to see a number of its priorities reflected in the Task Force draft recommendations. Asokumar Buvanendran, M.D., chair of ASA’s Committee on Pain Medicine, presented at a meeting of the Task Force in May 2018. He explained the unique role physician anesthesiologists can serve in reducing patient exposure to and use of opioids during surgery and at discharge. He highlighted key ASA initiatives, such as the Perioperative Surgical Home (PSH) and its opioid pilot program geared at reducing opioids in common high-volume surgeries across health care systems.

ASA was particularly pleased the Task Force draft report emphasized multimodal approaches for perioperative pain, including the recognition of models like the PSH as a means to reduce opioid use. The PSH is an ASA-developed model of coordinated care that spans the entire surgical experience, from the decision to have surgery to discharge and beyond. Physician anesthesiologists use opioid-sparing techniques to impact the number of opioids prescribed to patients and consequently the number of unused opioids in households following surgery. These techniques have been incorporated into the PSH to successfully reduce opioid use.

Other Task Force recommendations supported by ASA include appropriate training and education of those performing interventional pain procedures; insurance coverage for evidence-based, non-opioid pain treatments; increased patient and provider education; improving prescription drug monitoring programs; and a review and update of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.

The Task Force is led by ASA member and physician anesthesiologist Vanila Singh, M.D., the medical director for the assistant secretary for health in HHS, and includes ASA members Sherif Zaafran, M.D. and Halena Gazelka, M.D.

Formed after Congress passed key legislation to address the opioid crisis in 2016, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), the Task Force is required to submit a report to Congress in 2019.

ASA commends the Task Force Chair Vanila Singh, M.D., the medical director for the assistant secretary for health in HHS, and Task Force members Sherif Zaafran, M.D. and Helena Gazella, M.D., all ASA members, for their leadership on this important federal task force.


Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 53,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves.

For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit Like ASA on Facebook; follow ASALifeline on Twitter.



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