NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - "In 2015, the amount of opioids prescribed in the United States was enough to keep each individual medicated for 3 weeks around the clock," Dr. Maged Guiruis said.
Guirguis is the Director of Research Pain Management for Ochsner. In response to the opioid crisis, a task force made up of multiple departments was formed within the Ochsner Health System.
"All of those departments put input in about how to manage the crisis within our hospital," Guirguis said.
He said some patients who have chronic pain are given alternatives to opioids. For example, they're prescribed medication that's not a narcotic or given physical therapy. The hospital also has programs designed to restore a patient's function without focusing on the pain.
"The flexibility of finding a solution is something that I'm looking forward to, and hopefully that will be maintained. I'm very hopeful that we are going in the right direction," Guirguis said.
Ochsner is also providing tools to physicians.
"One of those tools is to be able to see what the prescription history is of the patients that they're taking care of," said Dr. Todd Burstain.
It's an internal data system that allows doctors to access a patients history in a matter of seconds.
"Before we had this in place, you had to go to the Board of Pharmacy's website, log in, put in all the patients information and then you would get the report of what they've been prescribed over the past few years," Burstain said.
Doctors now simply click on a button and the information is available, not just from the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy website, but also from systems in Texas and Mississippi.
"At Ochsner, we didn't want to just limit the number of narcotics that are going out, we actually want to have the best practice while doing this," Burstain said.
Burstain said it's also about identifying whether a patient has a problem with opioids.
"Most importantly, giving patients Naloxone to prevent them from overdosing if they get into trouble with that, and so that's how we can try to reduce those 60,000 deaths a year in the," Burstain said.