MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Regional One Health is seeing results of its efforts to cut opioid prescriptions and addiction.
At the level one trauma center for the Mid-south, thousands of patients come through the doors of the emergency department in need of help everyday. Many times in pain.
"We want to have opioids as an option when needed, but we don’t want it to be our first line option when that’s not necessarily appropriate," said Justin Griner, pharmacist.
Across Tennessee since 2013 opioid-related deaths continue rise.
According to a University of Memphis report, more than 250 people in Shelby County will die from an opioid-related death by 2020.
Regional One Health's "Opioid Light" program looks to change the way doctors treat their patients for pain.
"Initially what we had was in our electronic health record there was like a 20 pill default. So, what we did was we took that away. So, that makes the physicians think like ‘well everyone doesn’t need 20 pills,'" said Dr. Chantay Smartt, physician.
Prompts like this one help doctors see opioid alternatives.
In one year, the hospital has reduced the number of opioid pills prescribed by 20 percent.
"We want to treat your pain if you come in with a painful condition but we want to use agents that don’t have the addictive potential of opioids when ever that is possible," said Griner.
Together, emergency department doctors like Dr. Chantay Smartt work with pharmacists like Justin Griner to find the best treatment options for patients.
However, for a person in need of something stronger to help with the pain, patients are educated on the addictive properties of opioids.
The emergency department at Baptist Memorial Hospital has also used the “Opioid Light” program since January 2017.
Since then, they have seen a 70 percent reduction in opioids prescribed.