Spring View Hospital begins narcotic prescription policy in ER

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By Special to The Sun


Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the nation, according to the newly released National Survey on Drug Use and Health. In the survey, Kentucky was one of the top ten states in several drug-use categories among persons age 12 and older including: past-year non-medical use of pain relievers, past-month use of illicit drugs other than marijuana, and illicit drug dependence. Approximately 8 percent of Kentucky residents reported past-month use of illicit drugs; the national average was 8 percent. The rate of drug-induced deaths in Kentucky exceeds the national average. 

Prescription drugs cause more overdose deaths than all other substances combined including cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. In an effort to address concerns and the potential for abuse of narcotics, Spring View Hospital is adopting a proactive policy relating to prescribing of narcotic medication by emergency room physicians effective June 1. The purpose of the new policy is to promote the safety of patients and our community. 

While these medicines are technically safe, they can become counter-productive to treating painful conditions and in some situations prolong pain.  In addition to potential side effects, they can lead to narcotic addiction and withdrawal. In 2010, opiates, including prescription drugs, were the most commonly cited drugs among primary drug treatment admissions in Kentucky.


Under the policy:

- Patients presenting narcotic prescriptions for replacement due to being lost, stolen or expired will no longer be refilled. 

- Patients with chronic pain will receive non-narcotic pain medications as a temporary treatment.

- Patients having frequent or multiple visits to the Emergency Department seeking relief from painful conditions will be considered to have chronic pain syndromes and non-narcotic pain medications will be prescribed.

- Patients with an acute painful condition will only be given narcotic prescriptions for a very small amount of medication to last until they can follow up with a primary doctor or specialist. Patient returns for refill of the prescription, will receive a non-narcotic prescription. 

- Patients must have another driver present to escort them home when narcotic medication is given during the course of treatment.

Patients will be encouraged to maintain an individualized pain treatment plan with their regular physician for more consistent control of their pain and thus a better quality of life. We do realize that many patients do not have a regular doctor. We will do everything we can to help our patients access primary care physicians or pain specialists so they can begin a closely monitored pain treatment plan.” 

For any questions regarding the policy, you may call 270-692-3161 ext. 288.