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Los Angeles County emergency departments attack excessive opioid prescribing

March 24, 2015
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Los Angeles County has joined an effort conducted in other California counties' emergency medical departments to stem the over-prescribing of opioid medications.

A collaborative task force of hospital, physician and other healthcare representatives announced last week that emergency departments across Los Angeles County are implementing guidelines for safe opioid prescribing that are based on American Academy of Emergency Medicine standards. Among the departments participating in the initiative are those in Los Angeles County public hospitals and in Kaiser Permanente facilities. Kaiser Permanente has provided a grant for distribution of patient information handouts about opioids.

Among the guidelines are that opioid medications should be used only as a last resort and only for severe non-cancer pain at the lowest possible doses, and that emergency physicians should prescribe only a limited-days' supply of oral opioid medications. Emergency departments in San Diego and Imperial counties have adopted similar initiatives.

“Long-term daily opioid use of 90 days or more is no longer considered good clinical practice for non-cancer pain,” Joel Hyatt, MD, emeritus assistant regional medical director for Kaiser Permanente Southern California Region, said in a news release.

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