Committee Considers THA’s Voluntary Emergency Department Opioid Prescribing Guidelines
(Austin – March 27, 2018) The Texas Hospital Association will provide insight for Texas lawmakers at the Texas Capitol, describing the effect of opioid abuse on Texas hospitals and patients and ways the hospital industry is leading efforts to identify solutions.
John Hawkins, THA senior vice president of government relations, will testify on the growing opioid epidemic before the Texas House of Representatives Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse, chaired by Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo). The cost to treat opioid overdoses in U.S. hospitals’ intensive care units increased by 60 percent from 2009 to 2015, and the average cost to treat an opioid overdose in the ICU was $93,000 per patient in 2015, according to the Center for Healthcare Delivery Science at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The problem has worsened, as nearly 3,000 Texans died from drug overdoses in 2016. Although a fraction of national opioid prescriptions are written in hospital emergency departments, those prescriptions account for approximately 45 percent of opioids diverted for non-medical use, according to the American Academy of Emergency Medicine.
“Understanding how the opioid epidemic affects individuals, communities and businesses in Texas is an important first step to addressing the problem,” said Ted Shaw, THA president/CEO. “Texas hospitals play a significant role in educating lawmakers, the public and other health care professionals about the dangers of opioid abuse and how it can be avoided, and we look forward to continuing that work.”
THA developed voluntary guidelines for Texas hospitals to help curb prescribers’ use of opioids in hospital emergency departments. The guidelines are designed to help prescribers employ practices that will reduce the number of opioid overdose deaths in Texas.
THA’s voluntary guidelines emphasize use of short-acting opioids and recommend that any opioid prescriptions for patients leaving the emergency department be written for the shortest duration possible. The guidelines also encourage better communication and awareness of patients’ prescribing history and future opioid prescriptions among hospitals, prescribers and pharmacists.
THA collaborated with its behavioral health council, hospital physician executive committee and quality and patient safety council to develop the guidelines, which the THA board of trustees approved in February. Its implementation, while voluntary, is ongoing statewide.