June 6, 2018

Norwalk Hospital emergency unit reduces opioid orders by 45%

PHOTO | Contributed
PHOTO | Contributed
Norwalk Hospital's Bauer Emergency Care Center

Connecticut's recent success in reducing opioid prescriptions last year received a boost from Norwalk Hospital's new pain management program.

Norwalk Hospital, one of three hospitals in Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN), says a new program helped reduce physician orders of opioids by 45 percent compared to the prior year at its Bauer Emergency Care Center.

Hospital officials said the program uses new protocols, improved ultrasound guided peripheral nerve blocks that lessen the need for narcotics during emergency care, and measures the monthly usage of opiates in the emergency department.

The initiative also works to educate providers about alternative pain management therapies and the dangers of the national opioid crisis.

As previously reported, opioid prescriptions in Connecticut decreased by 14 percent in 2017 vs. 2016 and have fallen by about 17 percent since 2014.

But the state has a fair share of work ahead combating opioid and other drug abuse.

Drug-related deaths in Connecticut increased by more than 25 percent from 2014 to 2015 and rose by 24 percent through 2016. The death toll stabilized in 2017, WCHN officials said.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Public Health has reported more than 1,300 drug-related emergency department visits in January and February this year.

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