New Jersey's largest ER shares findings from Alternatives to Opiates program

In an effort to combat the nationwide opioid epidemic, St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson, N.J., implemented opioid alternative protocols in its emergency room in January. The medical center recently shared the results of the Alternatives to Opiates program with The Washington Post.

According to Mark Rosenberg, DO, St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center's chairman of the department of emergency medicine, the goal of the ALTO program is to try and treat most patients without opioids before considering using them.

During the first two months of the ALTO program, 300 patients participated, 75 percent of whom did not need opioids. The program did not include patients with cancer or those with chronic pain who are already dependent on opioids.

Andrew Kolodny, MD, executive director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, commented on the success of the ALTO program at St. Joseph's.

"I think it is unique that they're going to do a variety of measures to avoid using opioids," Dr. Kolodny told the Post. "In many cases, we're exposing people to opioids when we don't need to be."

The key, according to Dr. Rosenberg, is to get patients over the first 24 to 48 hours of pain with tools such as nerve blocks and non-opioid pain relievers such as acetaminophen.

"If I can get you over that, you're going to feel a lot better," Dr. Rosenberg told the Post.



More articles on opioids:
Opioid-related hospital visits almost doubled since 2007 in Mass.
99% percent of primary care physicians overprescribe addictive painkillers
UT Medical Center study supports opiate detox during pregnancy

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