Barb Hailey 2017-10-27 04:13:07
NorthShore Physicians Take Action to Counter Painkiller Abuse Prescription opioid pain medications such as OxyContin and Vicodin help many patients manage chronic pain. But the therapeutic value from short-term use has given way to a serious epidemic of opioid addiction. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are startling: One in four patients prescribed opioids becomes addicted. Ninety-one Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, and more than 500,000 have died from an overdose between 2000 and 2015. Just as tragic is the increase in newborns who are born dependent on opioids due to their mothers’ drug use. TAKING THE LEAD Physicians at NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore) are responding to this alarming trend. They have joined with state and federal health regulators to establish critical new guidelines for prescribing the safest and most effective pain treatments. Among them: Family Medicine Physician Lauren Oshman, MD, MPH, co-chair of NorthShore’s Chronic Pain Management Task Force, is charged with implementing guidelines to help physicians prescribe opioids safely. Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist David Ouyang, MD, is a member of the Illinois Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) Committee. NAS is a withdrawal syndrome newborns suffer when mothers use opioids during pregnancy. Both physicians hold academic appointments at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. “We’re implementing the CDC’s opioid prescribing guidelines for chronic pain in all of our NorthShore physician practices,” explained Dr. Oshman. “These include prescribing lower doses of opioid medication and monitoring patients closely. We also developed a pain agreement, where doctors and patients map out risks, goals and expectations for chronic pain management.” NorthShore physicians also are leading the way with alternatives, including non-opioid medications and changes in diet and exercise. BABIES ARE MOST VULNERABLE “The opioid epidemic spares no one, including pregnant moms and their babies,” noted Dr. Ouyang, who through the NAS Committee works with his NorthShore maternal fetal medicine colleague, Ann Borders, MD, to evaluate and recommend guidelines and programs to help moms and babies affected by opioid abuse. “It’s important for all NorthShore providers to universally screen pregnant women for opioids,” Dr. Ouyang added. “Our neonatology colleagues have taken the lead on identifying and closely monitoring at-risk infants. There’s no stereotypical face of opioid use and abuse in pregnancy. Approaching these moms in a supportive fashion improves the likelihood that they’ll follow suggested care and treatments, which in turn benefits the health of their babies.” BE BRAVE: ASK FOR HELP If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse—including opioids—seeking help is the most important and courageous step you can take. Marking its 40th anniversary, NorthShore’s Doreen E. Chapman Center offers comprehensive treatment for people suffering from addiction to drugs and alcohol. Learn more about these programs online at northshore.org/r1. To make an appointment, please call (847) 492-5700 (Ext. 1259).
Published by Staywell/NorthShore University. View All Articles.
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