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Evidence to Improve Care

Opioid Prescribing for Acute Pain

Care for People 15 Years of Age and Older

Click below to see a list of brief quality statements and scroll down for more information.​​

Quality standards are sets of concise statements designed to help health care professionals easily and quickly know what care to provide, based on the best evidence. ​

See below for the quality statements and click for more detail.​

Quality Statement 1: Comprehensive Assessment
People with acute pain receive a comprehensive assessment to guide pain management.

Quality Statement 2: Multimodal Therapies
People with acute pain receive multimodal therapy consisting of non-opioid pharmacotherapy with physical and/or psychological interventions, with opioids added only when appropriate.

Quality Quality Statement 3: Opioid Dose and Duration
People with acute pain who are prescribed opioids receive the lowest effective dose of the least potent immediate-release opioid. A duration of 3 days or less is often sufficient. A duration of more than 7 days is rarely indicated.

Quality Statement 4: Information on Benefits and Harms of Opioid Use and Shared Decision-Making
People with acute pain and their families and caregivers receive information about the potential benefits and harms of opioid therapy, safe storage, and safe disposal of unused medication at the times of both prescribing and dispensing.

Quality Statement 5: Acute Pain in People Who Regularly Take Opioids
People with acute pain who regularly take opioids receive care from a health care professional or team with expertise in pain management. Any short-term increase in opioids to treat acute pain is accompanied by a plan to taper to the previous dose.

Quality Statement 6: Acute Pain in People With Opioid Use Disorder
People taking buprenorphine/naloxone or methadone for the treatment of opioid use disorder continue their medication during acute-pain events.

Quality Statement 7: Prescription Monitoring Systems
Health care professionals who prescribe or dispense opioids have access to a real-time prescription monitoring system at the point of care. Prescription history is checked when opioids are prescribed and dispensed to avoid duplicate prescriptions, potentially harmful medication interactions, and diversion.

Quality Statement 8: Tapering and Discontinuation
People prescribed opioids for acute pain are aware of the potential for experiencing physical dependence and symptoms of withdrawal and have a plan for tapering and discontinuation.

Quality Statement 9: Health Care Professional Education
Health care professionals have the knowledge and skills to appropriately assess and treat acute pain using a multimodal approach; appropriately prescribe, monitor, taper, and discontinue opioids; and recognize and treat opioid use disorder.

Search below for the quality standard; the guide for patients; an information brief demonstrating why the quality standard is needed; quality improvement tools and resources; and performance indicators to help clinicians and organizations track their progress against the standard.

Quality Standard

Know what quality care looks like, based on evidence and expert consensus

Download the quality standard

Download the quality statements in brief

The clinical guide cover for Opioid Prescribing for Acute Pain

Patient Reference Guide

Patients: know what to ask for in your care

Patient reference guide cover for Opioid Prescribing for Acute Pain

Quality Standard Placemat

A quick-reference resource for clinicians that summarizes the quality standard and includes links to helpful resources and tools

Icon of a poster

Recommendations for Adoption

System-wide and regional requirements to help health care professionals and organizations meet the standards

Recommendations for Adoption

Getting Started

Tools to support health care professionals:

A guide for putting quality standards into practice (for best results view on Adobe Reader)

Action Plan Template

Tools to support patient care

Getting Started Guide


See why we need a quality standard for opioid prescribing for acute pain in Ontario


Indicator Guide

See the technical specifications for the indicators within the quality standard

measurement ruler

We have prepared a summary of the public feedback we received for this quality standard. If you would like a copy of this report, please email us at

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