Pain medicine story wins $5000 ANZCA Media Award

Friday March 3, 2017

“When the drugs don’t work: How prescription opioids have become the new heroin” by Good Weekend writer Stephanie Wood has won the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists Media Award for 2016.

Ms Wood said she became interested in the topic after noticing the number of NSW Coroner’s findings delivered on deaths related to overdoses of prescription medicines, particularly opioids. 

“It was a very difficult article to write,” she said. “To balance the sensitivity required, especially given the fact that I was using the subjects’ real names, with the need to vividly portray their situations; to explain the science of pain medication and addiction… and to settle on the appropriate emphasis, given the complexity of the subject.”

The award, for the best news story or feature about anaesthesia or pain medicine, was judged by former ABC journalist, lecturer and media training expert, Doug Weller; anaesthetist and ANZCA Bulletin Medical Editor Dr Rowan Thomas; and former Age health editor and Ambulance Victoria media director Tom Noble. 

The judges said, “This detailed, very well researched article warned of the prevalence and misuse of opioids, used to ease chronic pain, and the impact this has on patients, particularly in terms of addiction. The investigation outlined the medical and human cost of this growing public health crisis. 

“Stephanie Wood’s beautifully crafted, engagingly written reportage highlighted the value of the work of the Faculty of Pain Medicine to promote the treatment of chronic pain without opiates. The article had high visibility, and its powerful message would have touched many in the community.”

Entries for the $A5000 ANZCA Media Award for 2017 are now open. The award is for the best news story or feature on anaesthesia or pain medicine to appear in the Australian or New Zealand media (print, television, radio or online) in 2017. 

The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) is the professional organisation for about 6,000 specialist anaesthetists (Fellows) and 1,500 anaesthetists in training (trainees).One of Australasia's largest specialist medical colleges, ANZCA, along with its Faculty of Pain Medicine, is responsible for the training, examination and specialist accreditation of anaesthetists and pain medicine specialists and for setting the standards of clinical practice in Australia and New Zealand. The College also contributes to the advancement of anaesthesia in south-east Asia and Papua-New Guinea. 

About FPM
The Faculty of Pain Medicine is a world-leading professional organisation for pain specialists that sets standards in pain medicine and is responsible for education and training in the discipline in Australia and New Zealand. Pain medicine is multidisciplinary, recognising that the management of severe pain requires the skills of more than one area of medicine.
Chronic pain affects about one in five people in Australia and New Zealand. Specialists also manage acute pain (post-operative, post-trauma, acute episodes of pain in medical conditions) and cancer pain. 
For more information or to request interviews, please contact ANZCA Media Manager Karen Kissane on +61 3 8517 5303, +61 408 259 369 or Follow us on Twitter @ANZCA.

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