17 people die from prescription drug overdoses every day in the United States.
Drug deaths from opioid abuse increased for the 12th consecutive year.
Clearly we are in the midst of an epidemic.
Which is why it is encouraging to hear when acute care hospitals take an active position in preventing opioid overdoses. And create a comprehensive and systematic approach to addiction treatment.
It was recently announced that Massachusetts General Hospital will spend $1.4 million on a new addiction and treatment program to conduct universal patient drug and alcohol screening.
Not only that, but Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts recently declared an opioid public health emergency.
He asked the Legislature for help with three lifesaving strategies:
1) Make sure that first responders, pharmacies and friends and family members of individuals at risk of overdose have access to Naloxone.
2) Educate physicians about safe prescribing practices and how to use the prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP).
3) Improve access to drug treatment for all Massachusetts residents who need help breaking the cycle of drug abuse.
The plan is a big step forward. It is important to have more public/private partnerships to tackle the issue from all angles.
Other ideas include
- State-licensed alcohol and drug counselors to identify problems and find treatment resources.
- Health promotion advocates to connect patients with outpatient counseling, AA, Narcotics Anonymous, and other community services.
- Naloxone rescue kits
We will continue to track Massachusetts General Hospital’s progress with its universal patient drug and alcohol screening program.
Hopefully more acute care hospitals can take a leadership role in preventing opioid overdoses.
Progress can only be made when there are strong public / private partnerships, and a real commitment from all stakeholders involved.