House Calls

WIN 2019

House Calls Magazine is a quarterly publication that focuses on health and wellness. It includes a wide assortment of articles with topics on the latest health and wellness information, nutrition, safety, lifestyles, and more.

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28 { winter 2019 } h o u s e c a l l s NATIONAL RECOGNITION In 2018, the Joint Commission—the national healthcare accreditation organization— visited Roper St. Francis Healthcare and analyzed its efforts to reduce opioid use. "They told us this was one of the most impressive protocols they'd seen in the country," Dr. Frohock says, noting that the pain management and opioid reduction team's protocol now serves as a best practice example for healthcare organizations across the country seeking to reduce patients' reliance on opioids. The team's next goal is to tackle one of the most common and intractable maladies in the nation: chronic back pain. In early 2019, they will release a redesigned plan for addressing back pain and open a new low back pain clinic. "We'll be changing the way we treat a patient with back pain from the very beginning, so that we're not exposing more people with chronic pain to opioids," explains Dr. Frohock goal is to not only treat pain, but to treat it better than we were before while reducing opioid consumption as much as possible," says Dr. Frohock. It's important to note, say both doctors, that opioids are still available, but are used primarily as a backup or rescue in cases of severe pain. For patients who suffer from chronic joint or back pain and rely on prescribed opioids to manage daily pain, doctors work closely with a pain management specialist to get the patient safely through surgery—using increased opiates, if necessary—and then back down to their baseline dose as quickly as possible. From there, they are encouraged to try alternative treatments for their chronic pain and seek help, if needed, for opioid dependence. PROVEN SUCCESS The results from this new—and also old—way of treating pain have been striking. "We've decreased the amount of narcotics used for bariatric patients while they're in the hospital by more than 95 percent," Dr. Mitchell says. "And we've drastically reduced the number of post-op prescriptions given, as well. We wrote 76 opioid prescriptions upon discharge in the first six months of 2017. In the same time in 2018, we have written five opioid prescriptions upon discharge." Patients feel better, he says, and often recover faster than before. "We now have the majority of patients being discharged home within 24 to 48 hours after bariatric surgery, and these patients have very little pain," he says.

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