St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey has been using opioid alternative protocols in its emergency room since January. The goal of the Alternatives to Opiates (ALTO) program is to treat patients without opioids before considering using them. In the program’s first 2 months, 75% of the 300 patients that have gone through the program DID NOT need opioids, said Mark Rosenberg, Chairman of Emergency Medicine at St. Joseph’s. St. Joseph’s is the busiest E.R. in the state, treating nearly 160,000 patients in 2015.
Emergency rooms find themselves at the front lines of the addiction epidemic – dealing with people in genuine pain, individuals with addiction to may try to falsify symptoms to obtain drugs, and overdose patients. “Opioids may have their place in pain management,” says Rosenberg, “bad traffic accidents, surgical pain, and terminal cancer may all require opioid painkillers.”
The program comes as public health and law enforcement officials around the country continue efforts to combat the deadly opioid crisis. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released the first national guidelines for prescribing opioids in March, 2016. The CDC urged doctors to try first non-opioid painkillers, physical therapy, and other methods to treat chronic pain.
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Community Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Morris is eager to be involved in physician awareness of the CDC Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids. Please check back on our website to find out how we are planning to get involved, and how members of the community can help!