Carondelet initiates chronic pain management program | Health
With a dramatic increase in prescription narcotic abuse, Carondelet Health Network has instituted a new program in its Emergency Departments (ED), which is designed to address both the problem and help the patient at the same time.
For the last three months the Chronic Pain Management Program (CPMP) has been tested in the ED at Carondelet St. Mary’s, and was recently launched at St. Joseph’s Hospital on April 8. This is an intensive program that is designed to ‘help get patients the treatment they need and at the same time tackle the reported 37 percent increase in deaths in Arizona in the past few years from abuse of prescription narcotic drugs,’ states the program.
“There is a large problem. We see it every day in our practice,” said Dr. Herbert McReynolds, Medical Director of Emergency Services at Carondelet St. Mary’s Hospital, in a recent news release. “People are using emergency centers for their pain management – but, frequently, not just one. They may be going to multiple centers and clinics to get narcotic drugs.”
Dr. Gregory Hess, Chief Medical Examiner for Pima County reported in his annual report for 2012, of a 12 percent increase in overdose deaths, when compared to the same deaths in 2011; many of which were the result of overdose of prescription opiate drugs like Oxycodone.
The Carondelet program involves the help, cooperation and support of nearly the entire medical structure. McReynolds stated in the news release that when a patient appears at an ED complaining of pain, he or she will receive an appropriate medical evaluation to rule out an emergent medical condition. They will meet with nurses and doctors and be provided with key information in writing to help them. Navigators and patient advocates will work to get them the treatment they require. However, if the patient repeatedly presents with chronic pain issues, they will be enrolled in the program and monitored.
“Their issues will be addressed,” McReynolds said. “If the evaluation shows there is an emergent medical condition, it will be addressed in our emergency department. Non-emergent issues will be addressed either by us or we will help find a primary care physician or clinic to allow them to get the treatment they need.”
According to McReynolds, “The first time we see them, we’ll go through the evaluation process and, at discharge, the patient will be given a limited number of narcotic pills to address their issue.”
But the next time, after an evaluation to ensure no other emergent medical issues are present, the patient will receive fewer pills. On the third and subsequent visits again following a medical evaluation, the patient will receive only a couple of pills from the ED. No muscular or intravenous narcotic medications will be administered.
According to Jessica Christian, patient advocate at Carondelet St. Mary’s Hospital, the feedback from patients in the past three months has been strong. “They realize they are getting help with their problem,” she says. “And they also realize, after we find a primary care physician for them, they now have a way for all of their medical needs to be addressed.”
Emergency Department staff members from Carondelet St. Joseph’s have also spent time at Carondelet St. Mary’s to learn about the pilot program, and they launched it successfully at the east side facility earlier this month.
“We will help get these patients treated by the appropriate provider and, at the same time, reduce their pain and help them,” McReynolds says. “In reaction to the rising number of deaths in the community from narcotic drug abuse, this program and commitment by Carondelet will also help to reduce the number of narcotics on the street and make our community safer. It’s time for this trend to reverse. We want to lead the way to be able to change that.”
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