Texas hospitals lead initiative to reduce opioid deaths
(Austin – Feb. 9, 2018) The Texas Hospital Association recommends that Texas hospitals voluntarily adopt its guidelines to advise prescribers working in hospital emergency departments of ways to minimize inappropriate use of opioid painkillers and ultimately reduce the number of opioid-related deaths in the state.
THA developed the voluntary guidelines with the input of its behavioral health council, hospital physician executive committee and quality and patient safety council. THA’s board of trustees approved the guidelines.
“Texas hospitals long have been leaders in improving the health of all Texans,” said Ted Shaw THA president/CEO. “The misuse of opioids and the devastation that addiction wreaks on individuals, families and communities are problems that require multiple solutions to fix. As trusted health care institutions, Texas hospitals recognize that they have a responsibility to educate the public and work with prescribing health care providers about the dangers of misusing opioids and how misuse can be avoided.”
Hospital emergency departments prescribe just a fraction of opioid prescriptions written nationally. However, ED prescriptions for opioids account for approximately 45 percent of opioids diverted for non-medical use.
“Texas hospitals are just one piece of the complex health care equation,” said Sara Gonzalez, vice president, advocacy and public policy at THA. “But working with our physician and insurance partners, we believe we can start to make a difference in stemming the tide of opioid misuse and abuse.”
THA’s voluntary guidelines emphasize use of short-acting opioids and recommend that any prescriptions written for opioids for patients leaving the emergency department be written for the shortest duration possible. The guidelines also recommend that hospitals have a system in place to contact the patient’s primary opioid prescriber or primary care provider to notify them of the ED visit and the medications prescribed and that emergency department prescribers consult the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program before writing opioid prescriptions to check patients’ prescribing history.