38.4 F

Hospitals institute new emergency department narcotic guidelines



According to a national survey on Drug Use & Health done by MedlinePlus, an estimated 20 percent of people in the United States have used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons. This is prescription drug abuse and has become a serious and growing problem nationwide.

In an effort to help reduce abuse of prescribed pain medications, doctors and medical professionals from local hospitals are following a national trend to change their chronic pain management protocols and either have started or will start instituting new narcotics guidelines in their emergency departments.

Joining the national effort, hospitals involved include Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center, Northern Nevada Medical Center, Renown Regional Medical Center, Renown South Meadows Medical Center, Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center and the VA/Sierra Nevada Health Care system. While each organization will be working on its own implementation schedule, all will be working together to plan the processes and share best practices.

This collaboration between healthcare providers will not only improve the physical health of our neighboring communities but also improve the quality of healthcare patients receive.

While these medications are technically safe under the guidance of a skilled and licensed physician, they can, in specific instances, become counter-productive to treating painful conditions. In addition to potential side effects, they can lead to addiction, withdrawal and even, in some situations, prolong pain.

Because of concerns about the abuse of narcotics nationwide, each of the hospital emergency departments will discourage the chronic or long-term use of narcotics except when absolutely necessary.

New-onset or acute pain may still be treated with narcotic medications if a physician feels that is the appropriate treatment, however these new guidelines are directed toward limiting the prescribing of chronic or long-term use of these medications by anyone other than a patient’s regular physician.

The goal of these guidelines are to encourage patients to maintain a more in-depth and consistent treatment plan with their physician so they can have better, more consistent control of their pain. In addition, prescriptions for narcotic medications that have been lost, stolen or expired will no longer be refilled.

It is the patient’s responsibility to maintain active prescriptions with his or her primary care physician, specialty physician or pain control clinic that has regularly prescribed these medications. Emergency Departments encourage patients to plan ahead and make sure they work with their doctors to develop a plan to refill narcotic pain medications before the prescription runs out.

This Is Reno is your source for award-winning independent, online Reno news and events since 2009. We are locally owned and operated.