October 4, 2017
Education, Communication, Safe Disposal Key to Addressing Opioid Epidemic
Copley Hospital Medical Staff Statement Regarding Opioid Prescribing
We at Copley Hospital are concerned about opioid overuse and the epidemic of opioid addiction in our community. Opioids, or narcotics (such as oxycodone or hydrocodone), are medications used to treat severe pain and are prescribed with caution. We recognize that these powerful medications, even if prescribed to treat pain, can lead to addiction or even death. We also recognize that there are alternative ways to control pain that may be effective and are often used first, to minimize and even avoid the use of opioids. Among these alternatives are: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs such as ibuprofen), acetaminophen, physical therapy, or alternative medicine.
Patient safety is our top priority. Vermont legislation to limit prescribing and increase education and communication is a key tool in an important statewide effort to address opioid addiction.
Patient education on the risks is formal, including printed materials and an in-person discussion of risks when prescribing any opioid for the first time. Patients will be asked to sign an “informed consent,” documenting that this important information has been reviewed. A co-prescription of Naloxone, a reversal agent, may also be required, depending on amount of narcotic given. Under certain circumstances, law requires that a patient’s prescription history be reviewed prior to a new prescription being issued.
In addition to periodic follow-ups, patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain will need an annual evaluation, risk assessment, and a completed Controlled Substance Treatment Agreement that includes functional goals for treatment, and information regarding safe storage and disposal of medication.
Many factors contribute to addiction; there is no simple answer. You can help by bringing any unused medications to a disposal drop box located at your town’s police station. If you are seeking ways to control pain, work with your provider and understand that every clinician wants to work with you to minimize your pain and keep you safe.
If you or a loved one is living with addiction or are concerned about addiction, we recommend you contact the following resources:
North Central Vermont Recovery Center 802-851-8120
Medication Assisted Treatment Team 802-888-6009
Rocking Horse Circles for Families Living with Substance Abuse 802-888-2581
Narcotics Anonymous (24 hour hotline): 802-773-5575
Copley is determined to be part of the solution to this terrible epidemic and your support is essential.