I recently sat down with Pharmacy Times to discuss the critical role hospital pharmacy plays in offsetting opioid addiction levels and supporting opioid stewardship programs. In this discussion, we covered a number of key areas.
The impact hospital pharmacies have in managing opioid prescriptions
Hospital pharmacies are staffed with medication use and medication safety experts that can significantly impact opioid prescriptions in three key areas. Those include driving down inpatient utilization of opioids wherever possible, reducing the amount of medication patients are being discharged with, and enabling and empowering pharmacists to help patients treat their addiction.
The role hospital pharmacies play in offsetting opioid addiction levels
Hospital pharmacists are well-positioned to be active members of an Opioid Stewardship Task Force. More and more hospitals are trying to set up internal organizational committees to help address opioid issues with an intense focus on opiate usage, monitoring patients for addiction issues, as well as inappropriate usage of medications.
Key steps that hospital pharmacies can take to help prevent unnecessary initial exposure to opioids
- Standardizing pain-related order sets and treatment algorithms to avoid opioid orders unless a patient is in severe pain.
- Tracking the usage of opioid medications under a standardized approach, such as Morphine Milligram Equivalents (MME), to understand how much is being used across the organization
- Tracking adverse events related to opioids
How opioid stewardship programs can help to optimize patient medications
Opioid stewardship programs can help reduce the amount of opioids that are being prescribed in the organization, both for inpatients and patients who are going home. By tracking the usage of medications over time, hospitals can analyze whether changes in usage and identify opportunities for improvement.
The value of the hospital pharmacist is in the ongoing effort to fight the opioid epidemic
Pharmacists are experts in pharmacotherapy, they understand medications, and they've been dealing with opioids their entire careers, they are well-positioned to be key members of opioid stewardship teams. Plus, pharmacists are trusted by patients, so getting involved early and understanding a patient’s pain goals is key as they are helping patients understand expectations are when they go home.