10 Colorado EDs cut opioid use by 36% in 6 months: 5 things to know

Colorado emergency departments participating in a pilot program designed to cut opioid reliance began with the goal of reducing opioid use by 15 percent. After six months, the program yielded an average opioid reduction of 36 percent, according to a report from the Colorado Hospital Association.

Here are five things to know.

1. After more than a year of planning, the Colorado Opioid Safety Collaborative launched its six-month pilot phase in June 2017. The effort resulted in 36 percent fewer administered opioids across 10 EDs when compared to the same six-month period in 2016. Collectively, this amounted to 35,000 fewer opioid administrations.

2. The collaborative achieved the reduction through coordination across providers, pharmacies, clinical staff and administrators, and an increased use of less addictive nonopioid pain therapies, primarily lidocaine. Lidocaine use displayed the largest increase with a 451 percent rise followed by ketamine use, which increased 144 percent.

3. Collectively, the EDs saw a 43 percent reduction in oxycodone use, a 39 percent reduction in hydrocodone use and a 35 percent reduction in codeine use, among other significant reductions in commonly used opioid medications in the ED.

4. Participating facilities included six acute care hospitals (Boulder Community Health, Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree, Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins and UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Spring); two critical access hospitals (Gunnison Valley Health and Sedgwick County Health Center); and two freestanding EDs (UCHealth Greeley Emergency and Surgical Center, and UCHealth Harmony Campus in Fort Collins).

5. The participating EDs have continued their opioid reduction efforts in the wake of the successful pilot program, according to a report from Kaiser Health News.

"It's really a revolution in how we approach patients and approach pain, and I think it's a revolution in pain management that's going to help us end the opioid epidemic," Don Stader, MD, an ED physician at Swedish who helped develop the collaborative, told KHN. "And I think if we did put this in practice in Colorado and showed our success that this would spread like wildfire across the country."

More articles on opioids: 
DOJ aligns with states in opioid lawsuit, increases scrutiny on drug companies: 4 things to know 
Ohio AG targets 4 drug distributors in second opioid lawsuit 
Drug overdose deaths decline in 14 states: 5 things to know

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