Betz, M.E. et al. Annals of Emergency Medicine. Published online: 20 July 2016
Emergency physicians, sometimes cast as a significant source of the opioid overdose problem, are seeking more nuanced pain control in the emergency department (ED) and better methods to identify patients who shouldn’t receive opioids. Although the question of just how much emergency physicians are actually prescribing opioids remains under debate, innovators are moving ahead with ways to keep it to a minimum.
The Alternatives to Opiates Program at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson, NJ, has gotten a lot of attention, not all of it particularly accurate. Some media reports said the hospital would have the first “no opioids” ED in the country. Not quite, explained Mark Rosenberg, DO, chairman of emergency services at St. Joseph’s.
“What we’re doing is clearly more complex and comprehensive than that,” Dr. Rosenberg said. “It is really a multidisciplinary program focused on acute pain and acute pain syndromes that present to the emergency department. The idea is to treat pain effectively, and when opioids are needed, they are given appropriately.”
The department, which says it is the busiest in New Jersey, with more than 158,000 patient visits in 2015, brought on a pain specialty fellow in 2014 to pull together evidence-based best practices on managing pain while avoiding the use of opioids.
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