4 ways hospital leaders can proactively address the opioid epidemic

Many hospital leaders and clinicians are reassessing current pain management strategies and opioid stewardship efforts amid the ongoing opioid epidemic.

During a Sept. 18 panel at Becker's 4th Annual Health It + Revenue Cycle Conference in Chicago, Cheryl Crider, CEO of Crider Health Solutions; Janet Poppe, vice president of payer and employer relations at Pacira; and Reed Hansen, PharmD, director of professional services at Allscripts, discussed key issues on the opioid epidemic and how consumers, clinicians and administrators can play their part in curbing opioid use disorder.

Here are four takeaways from the discussion:

Editor's Note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Administrators should take initiative to research pain resources and educate staff on alternative pain management options. "Check regulation laws on how your state prescribes," Ms. Crider said. "I would also suggest looking at the American Academy of Pain Medicine in terms of resources for information to better prepare and create plans of action."

Multimodal pain management is the new line of thinking. "The operating room has become an unintended gate to the opioid epidemic. A lot of times it is a prescription after surgery that starts addiction," Ms. Poppe said. "The new thinking is, instead of using opioids as monotherapies, physicians are turning to multimodal pain management, where you use products with two or more different modes of action to really try to help that patient."

Share realistic pain expectations with patients. Zero pain is not the goal. "The body has to recognize the fact that it has been hurt and is in some discomfort," Dr. Hansen said. "We need to look at medication from a proactive perspective. How do we start within the healthcare system to make sure patients truly understand the medications they are being prescribed and understand what they are going through? You need to educate patients on some things that seem like common sense."

Clinicians should use nonopioid alternative therapies. "You have to have a plan of care to make sure patients are appropriately prescribed medications and consider nonopioid practices, such as nonpharmacological practices to distract, to help and to assist patients in pain," Dr. Hansen said. For example, oral surgeons are turning to Exparel for wisdom tooth extraction, which is injected into the surgical site and slowly releases medicine over three days to numb the area. "It is helping younger patients avoid opioids," Ms. Poppe said.

More articels on opioids: 

Nurse who lost sons to opioids becomes advocate for prescription drug safety
VA hospitals to add naloxone to AED cabinets
CBO analyzes House opioids bill: 3 things to know

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