Changing Practices: Pain Management in the Opioid Epidemic

Part of AACN Critical Care Webinar Series

Presenter(s): Catherine Ewing, BSN, RN

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Webinar Summary

The opioid epidemic is a hot-button topic in today’s headlines. Acute and chronic pain affects more than 100 million Americans, and is a burden on everyday life. News media and government officials place opioids and related topics at the forefront of public discourse and legislation. Meanwhile, the medical community struggles with the conflict between providing adequate pain management vs. opioid addiction. This timely webinar emphasizes current knowledge and information, including CDC guidelines, and outlines the nurse’s role, responsibilities and obstacles while managing an opioid regimen. It covers evidence-based strategies for optimal outcomes and satisfaction. Topics include acute vs. chronic pain, opioid tolerance and addiction, the role of nonpharmacologic measures and the bias and ethical concerns that nurses face. Acute and chronic pain definitions, assessment and prevention are discussed, featuring multimodal analgesia techniques. 

The CDC provides guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain, including a checklist for prescribing and a website with additional tools to aid in implementing the recommendations.


  • Describe the opioid epidemic and the nurse’s role in the management of patients taking opioids.
  • Identify the best practice strategies for acute and chronic opioid use.
  • Examine the assessments needed to define acute and chronic pain prior to administration of multimodal analgesia.


Catherine Ewing, BSN, RN

Catherine Ewing, BSN, RN

Catherine Ewing holds a BSN from the College of Saint Teresa in Winona, Minnesota. She works in the Department of Anesthesia Inpatient Pain Service at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester. As a member of this consult service, she triages and manages epidural and peripheral nerve catheters for both inpatient and outpatient populations. She has also worked in the ICU and PACU. Ewing has presented nationally on the topics of regional anesthesia and the opioid epidemic, and published an article on bedside analgesia.

Continuing Education Disclosure Statement

Successful Completion

Learners must attend/view/read the entire activity and complete the associated evaluation to be awarded the contact hours or CERP. No partial credit will be awarded.


This activity has been reviewed by the Nurse Planner. It has been determined that the material presented here shows no bias. No conflicts of interest have been identified for any individual with the ability to influence the content of this activity. Accreditation refers to recognition of continuing education only and does not imply AACN or ANCC approval or endorsement of any commercial products discussed or displayed in conjunction with this educational activity.


The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is accredited as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's (ANCC's) Commission on Accreditation, ANCC Provider Number 0012. AACN has been approved as a provider of continuing education in nursing by the California State Board of Nursing (CBRN), California Provider number CEP 1036. This activity is approved for 1.00 contact hours.

AACN programming meets the standards for most states that require mandatory continuing education contact hours for license and/or certification renewal. AACN recommends consulting with your state board of nursing or credentialing organization before submitting CE to fulfill continuing education requirements.

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Continuing Education Activities are nonrefundable.