Hospital's plan to prevent painkiller abuse
  • Wed, 08/08/2012 - 3:44pm

In an attempt to decrease drug abuse among patients, Blessing Hospital in Quincy, IL, has developed a plan to educate both its doctors and its patients concerning the proper treatment and use of prescription painkillers. 

Richard Saalborn, coordinator of the plan and medical director of Blessing Hospital’s emergency department, asked staff to submit the “pain contracts” of all chronic pain patients to help keep doctors informed of a chronic pain patient’s medications. A “pain contract” records basic information concerning the pain medication the patient takes, including the dose, the physician prescribing the medication and the pharmacy where the prescription is filled.

Saalborn says that doctors will also hold patients responsible for trying to deceive them in order to acquire painkillers or for trying to get multiple prescriptions from different doctors.

“There is inappropriate use of narcotics in the Quincy area,” Saalborn told the Quincy Journal. “In addition to overuse of these narcotics by the patient, some people are selling their pills and young people are getting ahold of them.”

To inform patients of the new plan, Blessing Hospital will post the following regulations in its Emergency Center:

  • The Emergency Center will not administer narcotic pain medicine injections for severe episodes of chronic pain.
  • Doctors cannot prescribe narcotic pain medication or a long-acting controlled-release opioid to a patient experiencing a severe episode of chronic pain after already completing the patient’s medical evaluation.
  • The Emergency Center cannot provide refills for stolen or misplaced narcotic or controlled substance medications and cannot administer missed doses of narcotic pain medication.
  • The Emergency Center has the right to ask for a urine drug test and to communicate with a patient’s doctor to determine the best treatment option for the patient in the Emergency Department.

This plan coincides with a recent Food and Drug Administration ruling, in which it will require 20 narcotic drug makers to provide educational programs to help doctors and patients understand the proper use of powerful painkiller medications. According to the FDA, painkillers caused 14,800 deaths in 2008 and 15,600 deaths in 2009, and prescription pain reliever abuse prompted 425,000 visits to the E.R. in 2009.

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