USA: NH Jacksonville Addresses Prescription Drug Abuse


Naval Hospital (NH) Jacksonville and University of North Florida (UNF) announced the development of a set of guidelines for treating chronic or recurrent pain Sept. 14.

The announcement was made by NH Jacksonville’s Commanding Officer, Capt. Lynn Welling and Dr. Yank Coble, director of the of the Center for Global Health and Medical Diplomacy at UNF, at a press conference at UNF on behalf of the Quality Collaborative of Northeast Florida.

The abuse of prescription pain medication has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Florida has the highest amount of prescription drug-related deaths in this country.

“Substance dependence, abuse and misuse are especially prevalent in Florida,” said Welling. “While recent state legislation will help address the problem, the Quality Collaborative Patients First Initiative aims to address the abuse in emergency rooms throughout northeast Florida. More importantly, it means leaders in medical and surgical care are collaborating across the region to provide patients with the most suitable medication for their pain.”

Welling proposed to members of the Quality Collaborative the development of pain treatment guidelines-an idea that was quickly embraced. A working group was formed to develop and implement the guidelines throughout emergency rooms in the region.

“I think this is a great demonstration of how the military and civilian sectors work together,” said Welling. “We need to be able to work together to create solutions that not only work for the civilian sector or the military sector but the communities as a whole.”

“The power of this patients first initiative is that it captures the grassroots, innovative projects resulting from the collaborative efforts across the First Coast’s private and public sector health care facilities, public health organizations and academic experts in the Quality Collaborative of Northeast Florida,” said Coble. “The adoption of guidelines across our region to help ensure patients are receiving the appropriate pain medication while helping to tackle abuse is a very important step we are taking.”

The guidelines focus on the following eight areas:

* Coordinating the care of patients with chronic or recurrent pain conditions with primary care and specialist doctors
* Having one doctor prescribe all of a patient’s narcotic or controlled medications
* Acknowledgement that certain chronic and recurrent pain conditions may not be adequately treated using narcotic medications as      a  mainstay of treatment
* Treating worsening of chronic or recurrent pain conditions with non-narcotic medications
* Sharing medical information across hospitals and pharmacies
* Prescribing controlled medications only to those patients who present a valid, government-issued photo identification or who are willing to have a photo taken if they don’t have identification
* Non-replacement of lost or stolen prescriptions for controlled medications
* Not prescribing or administering methadone

The voluntary guidelines will assist ER physicians in adequately treating pain while minimizing the misuse or abuse of prescription medications across the region. NH Jacksonville will implement the guidelines in its emergency room Oct. 1 and the other Quality Collaborative organizations including Baptist Health, Duval County Health Department, Duval County Medical Society, Mayo Clinic, St. Vincent’s Healthcare and Shands Jacksonville are expected to do the same in the coming months.
Source: navy, September 19, 2011;