November 22, 2017

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New Message For ER Docs: Prescribe Opioids Only As Last Resort

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Medical personnel at hospitals around the country are now being retrained to resist prescribing strong narcotics. In other news on the drug epidemic, The Washington Post reports on the hunt for a painkiller that is not addictive.

Stat: Hospitals Train Emergency Doctors To Resist Prescribing Opioids
Emergency departments, in particular, feel a heavy responsibility to take action: Collectively, they’re one of the top prescribers of opioids nationwide, behind family and internal medicine practices. And so, this month in eastern Mississippi, Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle began limiting opioid pain medication only to patients in the most acute pain. St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in New Jersey, which has one of the nation’s biggest emergency departments, is pushing to replace opioids whenever possible with less addictive treatments, like nerve blocks to dull pain. The center has even hired a harpist to fill the noisy halls with calmer notes. (Blau, 1/23)

The Washington Post: The Search For A Painkiller That Works Without Danger Of Addiction
When did our nation’s opioid crisis begin? Pretty much as soon as a German pharmacist isolated morphine from opium in 1805. Within the century, “addiction among soldiers was reportedly prevalent enough to earn the moniker, ‘the soldier’s disease,’ ” writes Jon Kelvey on Smithsonian.com. But after more than 200 years of increased dependency and deaths, his article declares that “America’s Long-Overdue Opioid Revolution Is Finally Here.” Here’s the tantalizing prospect of the piece: New compounds may provide patients with opioid-level pain relief without the awful side effects. (Hallett, 1/22)

And from the states —

The Record: N.J. Attorney General Clamping Down On Painkillers
New Jersey Attorney General Chris Porrino is using emergency powers to impose some of the toughest restrictions in the United States on painkiller prescriptions, part of an aggressive campaign against drug addiction outlined by Gov. Chris Christie that could also include an investigation into relationships between doctors and drug manufacturers. In a letter to the Board of Medical Examiners last week, Porrino cited his emergency powers and said he would amend several state regulations on the practice of medicine to prevent “the tragic consequences of the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic.” (Rizzo, 1/22)

New Hampshire Public Radio: How The Drug Crisis Is Reshaping One Busy New Hampshire Hospital 
Catholic Medical Center in Manchester is your typical general hospital: they deliver babies, set broken bones, perform heart surgery. And it might be as good a place as any to witness

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