6 ways UC San Diego Health is fighting the opioid epidemic

UC San Diego Health has rolled out various initiatives to limit opioid prescriptions and boost access to addiction treatment across its system.

Here are six ways the health system is working to address the opioid epidemic:

1. Improve guidance for primary care providers. UC San Diego Health recently updated internal pain management guidelines to reflect new CDC guidelines. The guidelines help providers know what medications to prescribe and when to refer patients to a pain management specialist.

2. Limit opioid prescriptions. As part of this effort, UC San Diego Health's pain management team redesigned the health system's pain order sets to emphasize nonopioid and multimodal pain management options.

3. Ensure prescribers check California's online prescription database to prevent "physician shopping." The health system's EMR will not let a physician enter a new prescription for an opioid unless they submit a document proving they have first checked the state's online prescription monitoring program.

4. Educate patients. UC San Diego Health is standardizing and broadening the information it gives patients who are prescribed opioids to include additional details on the drugs' risks and potential side effects. The information is also automatically included on a patients' discharge summary.

5. Offer a place for patients to safely dispose leftover opioids. The health system installed a MedSafe collection bin for patients to return unused opioids outside of its Pain Management Clinic in La Jolla, Calif.

6. Increase access to medication-assisted treatment. UC San Diego Health is expanding its addiction clinic and training nonpsychiatrists on how and when to prescribe medications such as methadone or buprenorphine. The health system also launched a project to start medication treatment in hospitalized patients to increase the chances of adherence after discharge.

More articles on opioids:
Opioid epidemic costs hospitals about $11 billion annually
Pennsylvania students create wristband to track potential opioid OD victims
Massachusetts hospitals get compliance guidelines for offering meds to opioid addicts

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