At one emergency room in New Jersey, the chairman of emergency medicine has decided to answer that question. At St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson, NJ, doctors have begun using opioid alternatives to treat pain, keeping opioids off to the side for last ditch treatment efforts only, the Associated Press reports. The program, Alternatives to Opiates (ALTO), has been used since January, and in the first two months 75 percent of the emergency rooms 300 patients did not receive prescription opioids.
This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new prescribing guidelines, calling on primary care physicians to only use prescription opioids when every other alternative proves ineffective. While the guidelines are not something the CDC is normally responsible for creating, due to the dire nature of this epidemic every health agency needs to work together to put a stop to prescribing opioids when they are unnecessary.
Andrew Kolodny, director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing points out that emergency rooms are the front lines of the opioid crisis we face, according to the article. He supports the doctors at St. Joseph's, utilizing alternative forms of pain management.
"In many cases, we're exposing people to opioids when we don't need to be," said Kolodny.