Newsroom > DHHS News Release

For Immediate Release
October 17, 2017

Leah Bucco-White, Communications and Legislative Services, 402-471-9356
DHHS Releases Opioid Prescribing Resource
for Health Care Providers

Lincoln – The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services continues to take action to help prevent prescription drug overdose in Nebraska. The department developed and is now releasing a new opioid prescribing resource for providers.

“Although opioids can be a useful option for pain management, inappropriate use can result in significant harms,” said Dr. Tom Williams, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for DHHS. “This guidance document will assist in making clinical decisions easier and provide effective options to treat pain while ensuring patient safety.”

The Nebraska Pain Management Guidance Document promotes consistent, safe and effective pain management standards for Nebraska prescribers. It is not a requirement, rather it’s a tool for clinicians to voluntarily use. The document includes information on treating acute pain, chronic pain, and non-opioid options for pain treatment, treating pain in special populations, and opioid tapering/discontinuation.

DHHS worked with partners including the Nebraska Medical Association and professional boards and physicians to create the pain management guidance which is being shared with all health care providers who prescribe and dispense prescription medication. Provider training is also in development. 

The guidance document aligns with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain and other various national specialty area guidelines, and is available on the DHHS website –

This effort is part of DHHS’ prescription drug overdose prevention initiatives which also include: 

  • Opioid response - A $2 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for opioid response. The grant provides critical funding to provide targeted training on the complexities of opioid use and to invest in evidence-based prevention and treatment interventions. These solutions will arm Nebraska to prevent opioid misuse in the state.
  • Access to a life-saving drug - Creating awareness about expanded access to naloxone, a drug that can be given to people experiencing an opioid-related overdose. DHHS is working with pharmacists, physicians and EMS providers to create educational resources and training on naloxone as well as an information campaign geared toward the public about access and use of the medication.
  • Enhancing Nebraska’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program - DHHS in conjunction with the Nebraska Health Information Initiative launched an enhanced prescription drug monitoring program Jan. 1, 2017 for health care professionals who prescribe and dispense medications. Now dispensed prescriptions for controlled substances must be reported to the PDMP and providers have access to patients’ controlled substance medication histories. The PDMP is an effective tool that prescribers and dispensers can use to make more informed decisions for patient care. Additional enhancements to the PDMP are on the way. Starting Jan. 1, 2018, Nebraska will be the first state to require the reporting of all dispensed prescription drugs. 

Fast facts about prescription drug misuse and deaths in Nebraska:

  • In 2015, 149 Nebraskans died of a drug overdose, and at least 54 were opioid related.
  • Data shows a slight increase in opioid-related deaths in Nebraska over the last decade from 2.4 per 100,000 people in 2005 to 3.0 per 100,000 in 2015.
  • Nebraska’s drug overdose death rate has also increased – 8.0 overdose deaths for every 100,000 people in 2015 up from 3.6 in 2004. The U.S. drug overdose death rate per 100,000 people was 14.7 in 2014 versus 9.3 in 2004.

Prescription drug overdose prevention is a priority in the DHHS Business Plan -

Learn more about Nebraska’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program -