We are educating the key decision makers and the public at large about the following solutions because they are ones that can make a major dent in the opioid epidemic, preventing more ruined lives and avoidable deaths.
- Reducing the prescribing of opioid-based painkillers by Hospital Emergency Departments through implementation at Rhode Island and other area hospitals of the ALTO—Alternatives to Opiates Program. Devised and first implemented at St. Josephs Hospital in Paterson, NJ, ALTO has cut the use of opioids in at least half in this heavily trafficked urban hospital emergency room which treats more than 160,000 patients annually. The program “uses targeted non-opioid medications, trigger point injections, nitrous oxide, and ultrasound guided nerve blocks to tailor its patients’ pain management needs and avoid opioids whenever possible, for example, in cases of kidney stones, acute low back pain, broken bones, acute headache and migraine pain.”
- Implementing opioid-free breast cancer surgery and recovery at Rhode Island and surrounding area hospitals. Protocols developed by Dr. Patrick Borgen at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn enable breast cancer patients to be treated with non-opioid pain relief alternatives. Undergoing mastectomy substantially increases the risks of patients becoming dependent on opioid pain relievers and these medications impair immune function potentially negatively impacting cancer prognosis. Implementing these protocols is revenue neutral for the hospital.
- Ensuring that non-opioid pain relief treatments, such as physical therapy and chiropractic are adequately covered by Rhode Island health insurers
- Educating the public on the importance of regularly emptying the family medicine chest and safely disposing of unused opioid painkillers. This includes enlisting Rhode Islanders in participating in the American Medicine Chest Challenge and other take back days. Teenagers often have their first exposure to opioids from raiding the family medicine chest or from friends who have done the same.