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Ten ERs In Colorado Tried To Curtail Opioids And Did Better Than Expected

By Kaiser Health News  
   February 23, 2018

Rather than opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone, or fentanyl, doctors used safer and less addictive alternatives, like ketamine and lidocaine.

This article first appeared February 23, 2018 on Kaiser Health News.

By John Daley, Colorado Public Radio

DENVER — One of the most common reasons patients head to an emergency room is pain. In response, doctors may try something simple at first, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If that wasn’t effective, the second line of defense has been the big guns.

“Percocet or Vicodin,” explained ER doctor Peter Bakes of Swedish Medical Center, “medications that certainly have contributed to the rising opioid epidemic.”

Now, though, physicians are looking for alternatives to help cut opioid use and curtail potential abuse. Ten Colorado hospitals, including Swedish in Englewood, Colo., participated in a six-month pilot project designed to cut opioid use, the Colorado Opioid Safety Collaborative. Launched by the Colorado Hospital Association, it is billed as the first of its kind in the nation to include this number of hospitals in the effort.

The goal was for the group of hospitals to reduce opioids by 15 percent. Instead, Dr. Don Stader, an ER physician at Swedish who helped develop and lead the study, said the hospitals did much better: down 36 percent on average.

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Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.


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