Tennessee VA hospital cuts opioid prescriptions by 49% since 2012

Johnson City, Tenn.-based Mountain Home Veterans Affairs Medical Center reduced opioid prescriptions by 49 percent from 2012 to 2017, according to federal data updated Monday.

Over the five-year period, the number of patients prescribed opioids at the facility dropped from 19 percent in 2012 to 10 percent in 2017. The decrease represents one of the most substantial reductions in the Veterans Affairs health system, according to a report from WJHL.

"It's been a hard effort, not just on one group, the primary docs who are on the frontline, but a whole range of people that have made this happen," David Hecht, MD, chief of staff at the Johnson City VA hospital, told WJHL. "Our job is to do no harm as physicians, and so when we find out that a medication that we're prescribing is doing harm or has the potential to do significant harm even if it hasn't done so already, our job is to try to find alternatives."

Mountain home initiated its opioid reduction program in 2016. The program involves the promotion of alternative forms of pain management, including acupuncture and yoga.

To read the full WJHL report, click here.

More articles on opioids: 
Premier survey: 90% of health system execs prioritize opioid reduction 
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Trump signs bill to crack down on opioid smuggling: 3 things to know

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