Emergency Room Changes to Opioid Administration

The strategies developed to combat the opioid epidemic have been diverse. PHSI previously reported on Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, Naloxone availability, and opioid deactivation pouches. These are just a few of the many programs being piloted across the country and new ones are being introduced.

St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey has an initiative to decrease opioid prescribing in its emergency room. Last year the ER changed its’ protocol to include ultrasound guided nerve blocks, laughing gas, non-narcotic injections, and nontraditional strategies such as music therapy and energy healing. By incorporating these non-opioid treatments, the hospital hopes to change both patient and physician perception of narcotics. Many healthcare providers and patients believe that narcotics are the fastest and surest way to alleviate pain, which may not be true for all conditions. St. Joseph’s has reported great success with their new pain management protocol.

Rhode Island and Alabama are two states taking steps to stop over prescribing of opioids. Both states have joined with the American Medical Association to develop ‘toolkits’ for prescribers. The toolkits contain opioid abuse data, practice guidelines, and various resources to help improve prescribing practices. It is too early to see if prescribing practices have changed, however providing education to providers is certainly helpful.

What steps is your organization taking to combat prescription misuse? What impact have you seen in the results?


3 responses to “Emergency Room Changes to Opioid Administration”

  1. Kyle Spaniol says:

    As a retail pharmacist, I have seen first hand the difference the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) has made since being implemented in Pennsylvania. Along with increased naloxone availability, I have seen a big change in areas of heavy opioid prescribing, such as Lewistown and Johnstown.

    I still feel we are a long ways away from where we need to be and many doctors have shown resistance to change, but I feel we are on the right track. As more alternatives and more education becomes available, I believe we will see a decrease in the over prescribing of opioids.

    • Alan Sekula says:


      Thanks for reading our blog and providing your comment! We appreciate your observations and thoughts on the challenges that remain on opioid prescribing and administration. We agree that prescriber education is a very important task. Do you see this as an opportunity for pharmacists to step up and educate prescribers on the potential alternatives and the most appropriate situations for each? Do you see any downside with the PDMP program?

      We encourage you to keep reading our posts and please don’t hesitate to send further questions or comments.

      Thanks again,
      The PHSI Team

  2. Kyle Spaniol says:

    I see a great opportunity for pharmacists to educate physicians on alternative and less addicting medications.

    I am holding out a great deal of hope for the potential non-additive opioid derivative medications currently in clinical trials and I await the opinions of those at PHSI on these medications when they come to market.

Leave a Reply