NOSM gets big injection of cash to educate doctors about safe opioid prescribing
Education plan will tackle unique northern challenges
The Northern Ontario School of Medicine has received a grant of over half a million dollars from Health Canada.
The money will be used to educate doctors in the north about safe opioid prescribing and chronic pain management.
Dr. Janice Willett is an associate dean at the school.
She says that the northeast and northwest have the first and second highest rates of opioid-related deaths in the province.
"That's pretty dramatic, because underneath that sharp point on the pyramid of having the first and second highest rates of opioid related deaths is all the additional challenges for families, for workplaces, for the social groups that these patients have been in," she said.
Willett says northern Ontario physicians face unique geographic and social factors that are different from many urban centres.
She adds that patients may not have access to adequate mental health resources or safe housing in their community.
"What we hope to do for their providers is create an education plan that recognizes some of the unique circumstances and some of the geography, bridge some of those challenges and improve the knowledge base of safe opioid prescribing," said Willett.
She says that doctors see the effects of opioid use in their everyday work life.
"We see the impact and it's not just related to the patient in front of us but the families of patients that have been negatively impacted whether it's by death or addiction," she added.
Willett says that the education will build on the 2017 Health Canada recommendations for best practices in prescribing. It might include creating a virtual site where doctors can go for information and to consult with other doctors on how to handle certain issues.
With files by Kate Rutherford