Prescription bottle

Epidemic is typically used to describe the widespread impact of an infectious disease instead of a medication treatment option. While pharmaceutical companies reassured providers, the growing number of opioid prescriptions was quietly converting patients into addicts. By 2017, the statistics were staggering and the clear misuse of opioids resulted in the United States Department of Health and Human Services declaring a public health emergency and announce a 5-Point Strategy To Combat the Opioid Crisis.

Cheri Fast, RN, BSN, WOCN, program manager for the Great Plains Quality Innovation Network (QIN), expanded, “The opioid crisis isn’t going away and what we have learned is that anyone can be affected. Anyone, regardless of income or background, can fall victim to addiction and solutions are difficult.”

Great Plains QIN is seeking solutions and recently hosted community roundtable events in Aberdeen, Rapid City and Sioux Falls, South Dakota to explore best practices to reduce hospital readmission by addressing opioid misuse, overuse of hospital and emergency room services and improved care transitions.

Pain management is often the chief complaint for patients who have undergone an invasive procedure or treatment. Individuals fighting chronic health issues, including heart disease and diabetes face a higher risk for complications. In addition, stress and reduced cognitive function caused by pain increases potential for misuse of prescription medications.

“Even when used as prescribed, opioids can lead to dependence. When misused, they can lead to adverse drug events and even death,” Fast further explained. “This is not just a healthcare crisis; it is an economic crisis as well. It affects us all: individuals, communities, healthcare systems, law enforcement and payers.”

The roundtable events concluded November 6 and provided an opportunity for healthcare professionals to collaborate on effective methods to ensure proper treatment and follow-up care continue after the patient is discharged to their home or another healthcare facility. Feedback will be compiled and a summary developed for distribution.

While South Dakota has one of the lowest opioid related death rates in the nation, those numbers have been steadily increasing since 2012. Medication safety plays a key role in care coordination and Great Plains QIN partners with healthcare facilities, professionals and stakeholder across the state and region to reduce hospital readmission and improve quality of life.

Additional Resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)