BWFH pledges to help turn the tide of the opioid epidemic
In a recent letter, Unites States Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, implores his fellow physicians to take action to turn the tide of the opioid epidemic. He encourages his colleagues to treat pain safely and effectively, screen patients for opioid use disorder and provide or connect them with evidence-based treatment and shape how the rest of the country sees addiction by talking about and treating it as a chronic illness, not a moral failing.
At Brigham and Women’s Faulkner, we are well on our way to doing as the Surgeon General suggests. The Multidisciplinary Opiate Management Committee, led by Vice President of Professional and Clinical Services Edward Liston-Kraft, PhD, focuses on inpatient management. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Peggy Duggan is leading a subcommittee dedicated to looking at treatment options for patients who are being treated at BWFH for medical issues but are also suffering the side effects of opiate withdrawal.
“For many years we have understood how important it is to support patients with alcohol and nicotine addiction with medical management. This allows patients to stay in the hospital and complete their course of medical therapy. We are taking the same approach with opiates,” says Dr. Duggan. “We have created guidelines for management of opiate withdrawal and for initiation of suboxone. Data will be collected to look at how often we employ these guidelines and if it prevents patients from leaving against medical advice.”
Across Brigham and Women’s HealthCare and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the opioid epidemic and our role as healthcare providers is a being talked about. And now action is being taken. “Massachusetts law requires our attention to prescribing practices and regular training on safe effective pain management particularly in regard to chronic opiate use. It is our responsibility as providers to manage our patient’s pain with as little opiate pain medication as possible. We continue to work together to improve our providers’ resources to achieve this goal,” says Dr. Duggan.