Hospitals and healthcare systems are critical partners in reversing the opioid epidemic. By educating providers and developing hospital and office-based protocols, patients can receive better relief from their pain with fewer opioids. With a decrease of opioid prescribing there will be a concomitant decrease in abuse, addiction, and overdose. With a decrease in these problems, there will be lower hospital costs and a healthier community.
Here are some ideas to reduce the opioids in your community (These will also improve outcomes and reduce costs). Click on the underlined words for supporting evidence:
- Develop system-wide policies on prescribing to decrease outpatient opioid prescribing in the ER and outpatient clinics:
- No opioids for outpatient treatment of back pain.
- No opioids for people under the age of 21.
- No opioids for osteoarthritis of the hip or knee.
- No opioids for chronic headaches or fibromyalgia.
- Avoid opioids for treatment of kidney stones.
- Periodically weaning people off of chronic opioid therapy as that results in an average of 20% improvement in pain.
- Develop inpatient protocols to reduce opioids and improve outcomes:
- Enhanced Recovery After Surgery protocols improve outcomes and reduce complications by reducing (or eliminating) opioids and optimizing fluid and recovery protocols. These have shown to be successful for:
- Train the mental health community in your area on how to reduce pain and improve quality of life for those living with pain.
See examples below for some examples of opioid sparing efforts.