Back in 2015, CalvertHealth Medical Center found itself in an unfortunate position. Our county was rated #1 in southern Maryland for prescribing the highest amount of morphine milligram equivalents in the area.
The scope of the opioid epidemic in our community was huge, as was the velocity with which it was growing. Beyond containment, we needed to attack the problem and reverse it by creating an opioid stewardship task force. Reaching outside our hospital walls to get buy-in from community physicians, dentists, and the public was imperative. When our outreach partners saw how committed we were, it was only natural for them to adopt our framework.
The task force aimed to educate providers with tailored brochures outlining our goals and new hospital policies. For patients and families, we created materials that explain in simple, straightforward language what opioids do, their role in pain management, and the availability of opioid alternatives.
This multi-pronged effort paid off in spades! Thanks to our stewardship program, we’ve seen a 94 percent reduction in Dilaudid Ⓡ use and a 46 percent decrease in other opioids. Clinicians enjoy clear-cut prescribing guidelines and our patients — and the community as a whole — are better educated and safer from developing opioid use disorder. CalvertHealth was immensely proud to receive the Health Quarterly Innovator of the Year award in 2017 for our opioid stewardship program.
Opioid stewardship is an ongoing process. We continue to leverage MEDITECH’s EHR to track data such as prescription frequency and dosing information, and to be on the lookout for any warning signs that a patient may be suffering from OUD.