Patient context

It is important that:

  • the patient and their carers understand the treatment plan including aims of therapy
  • the patient continues to use self-care strategies such as weight loss, exercise and appropriate pacing of activity
  • there is sufficient practical support available to allow adherence to the treatment plan
  • the patient is informed about safe storage and disposal of opioid medicines

Good practice in prescribing includes consideration of contextual factors that may pose additional risks for patients. These include:

  • the ability for treatment to be supervised and monitored: the arrangements for continued prescribing and for how the effectiveness of opioids is assessed must be agreed with the patient’s GP if he/she is not the initial prescriber
  • patient safety if side effects occur: this may be especially important for patients with communication difficulties or for patients who live alone
  • sources of support for advice about adverse effects and their management: this will usually be the initial prescriber but in addition patients should be advised regarding the valuable role of community pharmacists in managing medication queries
  • responsibilities of patients in possession of Controlled Drugs. This includes awareness of safe storage and understanding that the drugs should not be given to others.


Further Reading

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Guideline NG46: Safe use and management of controlled drugs. 2016.