As surgeons, unless one has been “living under a rock” for the last few years, we are all aware that the United States is in the midst of crisis with respect to the use and abuse of opioid medications. Although most of these drugs are prescribed with the best of intentions, as most of us have been schooled that “pain is the 5th vital sign,” it is clear that we as surgeons are contributing to this crisis.
In order to draw attention to this very important problem, Annals of Surgery has accumulated a number of well-written original manuscripts and Surgical Perspective articles that have focused on this important problem, and have grouped them all together in this issue. In order to further highlight the importance of the problem, we have asked internationally recognized surgeon and writer, Dr Atul Gwande, to provide a brief commentary to offer his opinions and a potential solution to the crisis. We hope that these important articles, and Dr Gwande's comments, will make an impact on this important problem.