NMC Commits to Addressing Opioid Epidemic

In the wake of continued concerns surrounding opioid use and abuse and pain management, Newton Medical Center (NMC) announced today its commitment to addressing the growing epidemic.

Following a multi-month effort to evaluate current processes and procedures, NMC issued a joint position statement of its Board, Medical Staff and Administration that focuses on three key factors: reducing opioid usage, improving monitoring and patient education, and encouraging alternative pain management methods.  The statement was authored by Charles Craig, MD, in collaboration with the Medical Executive Committee and Hospital Administration to reflect current best practices.

“We have an ethical responsibility to relieve patient pain and suffering,” noted Newton Medical Center President and Chief Executive Officer Vallerie Gleason.  “This includes managing pain in a way that will not cause future harm to the patient or our community.” 

Reducing Opioid Usage

NMC patients will receive individualized care since each patient’s needs are different when it comes to pain management.  Physicians and medical staff will work one-on-one with patients to utilize opioids as sparingly as possible during inpatient care.  Time-limited and total-dosage- limited opioid use is a top priority for caregivers.

Medical staff will utilize K-TRACS and other methods to screen for multi-prescriptions and/or multi-providers, including veterinarians, where patients may be obtaining prescribed opioids.  The prescribers may also consult with pharmacists and others to minimize over-prescribing. 

Improving Monitoring and Patient Education

Opioid prescriptions for chronic pain sufferers in an outpatient setting will be carefully controlled by the prescriber through a variety of strategies.  These could include pain management contracts and tests to determine if the drug is being taken as prescribed. Methods to limit usage will also emphasize patient education with the encouraged use of other medications and forms of pain management such as physical therapy, stress management and exercise.

Encouraging Alternative Pain Management Methods

In addition to alternative pain methods encouraged for chronic pain sufferers, NMC will offer a multi-modal pain management plan in its hospital and clinics.  Medical staff will utilize a wide array of medications ranging from acetaminophen to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to opioids supplemented with other comfort measures such as ice packs, re-positioning, movement, and staff presence. A complete copy of the Newton Medical Center’s Position Statement on Pain Management and Opioid Use can be found at https://www.newtonmed.com/opioidsafety.