Avoid the Dangers of Opioid Therapy

Yvonne D'Arcy, MS, CRNP, CNS



Opioids provide superb pain relief and are among the least expensive drugs prescribed. Plus, in low doses, they're usually safe. But these potent analgesics do pose dangers. The risks of abuse and serious adverse effects have always come with the benefits of opioids. Now, there's a growing awareness of safety concerns.

Purpose/Goal: To provide registered nurses with information to help them improve the safe use of opioids.


1. State the physiologic action of opioids.
2. Describe the clinical guidelines for the use of long-term opioid therapy in chronic noncancer pain.
3. Discuss the benefits and risks of opioids, patient-controlled analgesia, and the fentanyl patch.
4. Identify strategies that nurses and institutions can take to improve opioid safety.


Yvonne D'Arcy, MS, CRNP, CNS, is a pain and palliative care nurse practitioner at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.

The author is a speaker and an advisory board member for the Endo Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer, a consultant and an advisory board member for Ortho-McNeil, and a writer for Abbott. A peer review of the activity was carried out for freedom from bias due to conflict of interest.

Contact Hours: 2

Expiration Date: 12/31/2012

Pharmacology Hours: 2


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Non-Member Price: $20.00

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