June 08—Physicians through the UCHealth systems in northern Colorado this week started an opioid reduction program as part of a state pilot study to put a dent in the opioid addiction epidemic.
On Tuesday, the Colorado Hospital Association announced the launch of an opioid safety pilot in eight Colorado hospitals and three free-standing emergency departments, which includes UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies, UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital, UCHealth Greeley Emergency and Surgery Center and more.
Jamie Teumer, an emergency physician with UCHealth, immediately jumped on board with the project. He wanted his team on board the research effort to reduce opioid administration in a time when opioid abuse and addiction has reached epidemic levels.
Teumer said the goal is to implement more non-opioid alternatives to treat patients' pain. The hospitals and emergency departments involved plans to reduce administration of morphine, or equivalent opioid doses, 15 percent by next year, he said.
"It provides us an opportunity to objectively measure this," Teumer said. UCHealth hospitals also plan to cut back on the number of pills given with each prescription. There are a number of other medications emergency departments will use for acute pain, such as Lidocaine, Haldol, Ketamine and Benadryl, Teumer said.
UCHealth also started handing out informational pamphlets on opioids when they are prescribed, Teumer said. The handout details why the hospital will be using alternatives, signs and symptoms of opioid addiction and a list of resources.
According to a news release from the Colorado Hospital Association, the pilot program is necessary to gather data, establish best practices and determine the efficacy of using alternative medication to manage pain.
Colorado has the 12th highest rate of misuse and abuse of prescription opioids in the nation, and four out of 10 adults will admit to using opioids in a way they weren't prescribed, Teumer said.
People are often first exposed to opioids in a medical setting.
"Every day you hear these horrible stories about something related to opioid deaths," Teumer said. "We feel like it's something we can make a dent in and control the process instead of seeing addiction grow every day."
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