Texas Hospitals to Testify on Opioid Epidemic in Texas
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Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse Considers Impact of Epidemic on Hospital Emergency Departments

(Austin – June 26, 2018) In invited testimony before the Texas House of Representatives Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse today, Texas hospital leaders will share their work to curb opioid use and misuse. Testimony will focus on the challenges for hospital emergency departments in treating an increasing number of patients seeking overdose and drug-related treatment as well as broader strategies to reduce inappropriate opioid use.

Kenneth Mitchell, M.D., vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center and member of THA’s board of trustees and opioid prescribing workgroup, and Celeste Johnson, vice president of nursing services, behavioral health at Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas, and member of THA’s behavioral health council, will testify.

The cost to hospitals of opioid-related emergency department visits increased by 30 percent in 45 states from July 2016 to September 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as the number of opioid overdoses also increased.

“A significant number of Parkland patients suffer from a substance abuse disorder, which often presents with other co-occurring chronic conditions in our emergency department,” said Fred Cerise, M.D., Parkland’s president and CEO. “I commend Chair Price and the Texas Legislature for their thoughtful approach to combating addiction. By engaging the Texas Hospital Association as well as other community stakeholders in this discussion, together, we will develop policies that not only improve treatment but also prevent this deadly disorder.”

“There are many factors contributing to the opioid epidemic,” said Ken Mitchell, M.D., chief medical officer of St. David’s HealthCare. “At St. David’s HealthCare, we’ve implemented strategies to reduce opioid utilization in our inpatient settings through an Enhanced Surgical Recovery program, and all of our hospitals are working on multi-modal pain management protocols that rely on alternative non-narcotic medications to manage pain.”

As the largest hospital association in the state and advocate for all Texas hospitals, THA developed voluntary guidelines for use in hospital emergency departments to help curb the number of prescription opioids written. The guidelines are a tool 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.

“Texas hospitals are often on the front lines of public health challenges,” said Ted Shaw, THA president/CEO. “THA is proud to take a leadership role in developing voluntary guidelines to reduce the devastating impact that opioid abuse has on families and communities across the state.”

The Texas House of Representatives Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse, chaired by Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo), was formed to study opioid and substance use behavior in Texas and develop recommendations to help the state combat the opioid epidemic and address related issues.

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About THA
Founded in 1930, the Texas Hospital Association is the leadership organization and principal advocate for the state’s hospitals and health care systems. Based in Austin, THA enhances its members’ abilities to improve accessibility, quality and cost-effectiveness of health care for all Texans. One of the largest hospital associations in the country, THA represents 452 of the state’s non-federal general and specialty hospitals and health care systems, which employ some 369,000 health care professionals statewide. Learn more about THA at www.tha.org or follow THA on Twitter at http://twitter.com/texashospitals.