New Jersey hospital group develops alternative to opioid program

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A group of New Jersey hospitals is doing their part to help reduce the nation’s opioid addiction.

The three hospitals that make up Care Point Health have created alternative programs to prescribing opioids to combat pain.

“Given that it's a national crisis, I think everybody needs to be thinking outside of the box and coming up with some solutions and we want to be part of the solution,” says Dr. Tucker Woods, chief medical officer for Christ Hospital in Jersey City.

Dr. Woods says that in the past doctors would often prescribe opioid drugs such as morphine to help patients manage pain. But he says that this doesn’t to be in most cases.

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“Now we're actually getting alternatives to opioids and they actually work better and they're not addictive,” he says.

Dr. Woods says that doctors are now prescribing drugs like nitrous oxide or Lidocaine.

“They're not giving out Percocet. They're not giving out hydromorphone. They're not administering the morphine as readily as they used to, so we've seen a marked decrease,” says Christ Hospital pharmacy director Patricia O’Connor.

New Jersey Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal toured Christ Hospital Monday to recognize their work.

“Folks who never really wanted to use drugs often find that they've become dependent on them because of a medical problem they have,” says Elnahal. “That could be as simple as a dislocated shoulder or a broken arm or a different problem you come into an emergency room with. And then you get a big pill bottle of opioids and all of the sudden you find you're dependent on it.”

Officials at Christ Hospital say that opioids are only prescribed in the most extreme cases in the emergency room and are not kept in their medication stock room.

The first hospital in the country to end widespread opioid usage in the emergency room was St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson.

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