Grand River Health officials seek to find alternatives to opioids |

Grand River Health officials seek to find alternatives to opioids

Alex Zorn

Grand River Anesthesiologist Dr. Jeffrey Kirkpatrick and RN Megan Goldin inventoring medications at GRH.

As healthcare professionals look to reduce opioid use across the country, administrators at Grand River Health look for new ways to address an addiction millions suffer through every year. A GRH interdisciplinary team made up of GRH officials and medical professionals was created to directly address opioid use and last year the hospital has participated in a statewide initiative to offer alternatives for opioids to patients.

Since last April, the hospital joined the Colorado Alto Project, created in response to increased opioid use. The iniative seeks to find alternative medications for patients that are not opioids.

According to the website, 10 participating hospitals saw an average 36 percent reduction in the administration of opioids during the six-month pilot program in 2017.

GRH Quality Assurance Manager Becca Schickling said Grand River wanted to join the initiative because opioid addiction is an epidemic for the region and hospital officials saw a need.

“The point of the program is not to never prescribe opioids ever, but to try other drugs that are just as effective,” she said.

Tylenol and Mortin can be very effective in reducing pain, she added. Bentyl can also be very effective in treating abdominal pain.

From April to July, the hospital reduced opioid prescriptions by 35 percent.

The hospital prescribed an averaged of 496 morphine equivalent units, down from 675 MEU from their baseline.

Schickling said the hospital submits data to the state to help better evaluate regional and statewide trends.

She added the hospital’s goal was to decrease by 30 percent.

“We understand the opioid crisis and want to be responsible in the treatment of our patients to help them heal versus just masking pain and creating a new problem for them,” she said.

Along with looking for alternative medications, GRH also has been using the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which helps health care professionals keep track of every opioid that is prescribed.

Schickling added that the hospital’s emergency department will not refill long term opioid prescriptions.

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