HealthDay News — US hospital procedures and questionnaires used to manage patient pain lead to overprescribing of addictive opioids and need to be changed, critics say.

The current system contributes to a nationwide epidemic of overdoses from prescription opioids, according to a letter sent by more than 5 dozen nonprofit groups and medical experts to the Joint Commission, the Associated Press reported. The letter asks the commission to review its standards for pain management, and makes specific mention of guidelines instructing doctors to routinely ask patients to assess their pain.

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“The Pain Management Standards foster dangerous pain control practices, the end point of which is often the inappropriate provision of opioids with disastrous adverse consequences for individuals, families, and communities,” according to the letter cosigned by health commissioners from Vermont, Pennsylvania, Alaska, and Rhode Island.

The coalition that sent the letter to the Joint Commission also filed a petition with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Aggressive management of pain should not be equated with quality health care as it can result in unhelpful and unsafe treatment,” according to the petition. It calls on the government to release a proposal for a new pain questionnaire for hospital patients within 90 days, the AP reported.