Mt. Vernon Register-News

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March 29, 2010

SMGS starts new ER narcotics policy

Staff Report

MT. VERNON — In an effort to address concerns and the potential for abuse of narcotics, St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital has started a new policy in its emergency room.

“While these medicines are technically safe, they can, in specific instances, become counter-productive to treating painful conditions,” information from SMGS states. “In addition to potential side affects, they can lead to addiction, withdrawal and even, in some situations, prolonging pain.”

Under the new policy, patients with chronic pain will only receive non-narcotic pain medications as a temporary treatment.

“The aim of this policy is to encourage patients to maintain a more in depth and consistent treatment plan with their regular physician so they can have better, more consistent control of their pain and thus a better quality of life,” information states. “In addition, prescriptions for narcotic medications that have been lost, stolen or expired can not be refilled.”

The emergency room physicians will no longer write a refill of narcotic pain medication.

“It is the patient’s responsibility to maintain active prescriptions with his or her primary care physician, specialty physician, or pain control clinic that has regularly prescribed these medications,” information from the hospital states. “We encourage patients to plan ahead and make sure that they and their doctors have a plan to refill narcotic pain medications before the prescription runs out.”

Information on the new policy states the best way to treat a painful condition is to have a clear, individualized treatment plan with a regular doctor. Emergency room physicians will work with patients to arrange follow up care.

“We do realize that many patients do not have a regular doctor,” stated Dr. Brian Hughes, medical director of the emergency department at St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital in Mt. Vernon. “In those cases, we’ll do everything we can on either campus to get our patients help accessing primary care physicians or pain specialists they can follow up with.”

If a narcotic prescription is given for care of an acute painful condition, the prescription will only be for a very small amount of medication to last until the patient can follow up with a primary doctor or specialist. And, if a narcotic medication is administered in the emergency department, a patient must have another driver present in the department.

The new policy is effective immediately.

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