NHRMC Takes Steps to Reduce Opioid Misuse: New Guidelines in Effect

October 24, 2017
WILMINGTON, NC – New Hanover Regional Medical Center has implemented new prescribing guidelines for opioids as of October 17. The guidelines are aimed at curbing misuse and abuse of opioids in our community and align with provisions of the North Carolina STOP Act that go into effect January 1, 2018.

The new guidelines establish a system that allows for opioids to be used for effective pain management while setting more structure around when they are prescribed and for how long. The guidelines also call on providers to discuss the known risks and benefits of opioids with patients so they understand when to discontinue the use of opioids and how to dispose of unused medication.

“As practitioners, it’s universally acknowledged that we need to do more to prevent opioid misuse,” said Kevin Cannon, MD, who chaired the physician task force that developed the guidelines for NHRMC. “Now we’re helping practitioners with evidence-based guidelines to provide patients with the pain management they need while reducing the risks for misuse.”

When opioids are needed, the guidelines call upon prescribers to make the order electronically and prescribe the lowest effective dosage. On discharge, prescriptions for acute pain will be limited to three-to-five days, with the exception of acute post-operative pain, which could be extended to seven days.

NHRMC also encourages the community to play a part by safely disposing of unneeded medications. Visit www.nhrmc.org/medication-disposal for a list of locations where unused medications are accepted.