It's been reported that that drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under 50, and deaths are rising faster than ever, primarily because of opioids. Overdoses killed more people last year than guns or car accidents and are doing so at a pace faster than the H.I.V. epidemic at it's peak.
Opioids are natural or synthetic chemicals that interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain, reducing the intensity of pain signals and feelings of pain. This class of drugs include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain medications available legally by prescription such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and many others. Opioid pain medications are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor, but because they produce euphoria in addition to pain relief, they can be misused. Source: CDC
Across the U.S., hospitals and health systems are working to address the opioid crisis. To help in their efforts, the American Hospital Association developed a new toolkit to provide guidance and information to hospitals and health systems on how they can work with their patients, clinicians and communities to stem this epidemic. The primary goals of the toolkit include:
The toolkit was created with input from subject matter experts, including psychiatrists specializing in addictions, CMOs and other clinical experts, pain management professionals, and a number of specifically-identified stakeholders to ensure its relevance across the field.
A link to the new toolkit can be found at www.aha.org/opioidtoolkit. You also may use and share anAHA blog post at http://blog.aha.org/.
Effective July 1, 2017, the emergency opioid antagonist naloxone (Narcan) may be dispensed by pharmacists without a prescription pursuant to statewide protocol. The protocol allows for dispensing naloxone to individuals at risk of experiencing, witnessing, or responding to an opioid-related overdose. The statewide protocol and a step-by-step Narcan nasal spray administration guide is available online at https://www.pharmacy.ks.gov/resources-consumer-info-2/naloxone.
The American Hospital Association recently submitted policy recommendations to House Ways and Means Committee leaders as they begin developing Medicare-related legislation to address the opioid crisis. The committee is seeking feedback on specific questions related to overprescribing, data tracking, beneficiary notification, provider education, and treatment options. AHA also has submitted recommendations to other committees of jurisdiction, as Congress plans to enact comprehensive legislation on opioids this spring.