Newswise — PARK RIDGE, ILLINOIS – The opioid crisis is one of the largest challenges facing today’s healthcare professionals and the patients for whom they care. For the National Patient Safety Foundation’s Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 12-18, 2017, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) across the country are urging surgical, obstetric, and chronic pain patients to join with their anesthesia professionals to learn about the risks and benefits of the pain relief options available to them, which may include opioid and non-opioid treatments.

“Partnering with your CRNA to develop your plan for anesthesia and pain relief helps to optimize use of non-opioid drugs and local anesthesia techniques to minimize or eliminate the need for opioids,” said Cheryl Nimmo, DNP, MSHSA, CRNA, president of the 50,000-member American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than six out of 10 overdose deaths involve an opioid. Since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and heroin) quadrupled. From 2000 to 2015 more than a half million people died from drug overdoses, and 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. CRNAs stand ready to combat opioid misuse by actively engaging patients in their care, and using a health-and-wellness holistic approach to the prevention of opioid misuse.

Acute and chronic pain are best treated and managed by a team of healthcare professionals that includes CRNAs to actively engage patients in the diagnosis and management of their pain for improved well-being, functionality and quality of life.

Using a shared decision-making model and a robust communication plan, CRNAs collaborate with patients and the healthcare team through planning and discussion of the risks and benefits of pain management techniques. This encourages patients to play an active role in their own healthcare by sharing previous experiences with pain relief, learning what their options are, weighing what is beneficial, and making an informed decision on what is the best approach to address their discomfort and recovery.

Patients are encouraged to have open and honest discussions with their healthcare team and their families to develop the optimal plan to address pain and minimize the need for opioids. Through the preanesthesia assessment, CRNAs discuss pain management options with their patients, specifically addressing:

• Previous experiences with pain medications,• Current prescribed and over-the-counter medications or illicit drug use,• The kind of discomfort patients are experiencing or that is anticipated during and after the procedure,• The pain management plan and realistic recovery goals,• Patient lifestyle and how it is or may be affected by post-surgical pain, and• Patient family backgrounds and ethnicities.

As pain management specialists, CRNAs are uniquely qualified to minimize the risk of opioid dependence through a holistic approach to pain management. “By working with our patients, their surgeon and other team members, we minimize the need for opioids through alternative medication and techniques to gain an informed partner in control of their health and management of pain once they return home. They participate in a process that brings forth the best and happiest outcomes – good, safe healthcare,” said Nimmo.

AANA resources on opioid safety, for patients and providers, can be found at

About the American Association of Nurse AnesthetistsFounded in 1931 and located in Park Ridge, Ill., and Washington, D.C., the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) is the professional organization representing more than 50,000 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and student registered nurse anesthetists across the United States. As advanced practice registered nurses and anesthesia specialists, CRNAs administer approximately 43 million anesthetics to patients in the United States each year and are the primary providers of anesthesia care in rural America. In some states, CRNAs are the sole anesthesia professionals in nearly 100 percent of rural hospitals. For more information, visit and and follow @aanawebupdates on Twitter.