Texas Health Protocol Has Cut Opioid Use by 70 Percent

Physicians at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest Fort Worth are using a protocol that reduces the use of opioids after a C-section called Enhanced Recovery After Surgery.

Normally, a small amount of fentanyl is used in the surgery, and opioids are prescribed every three hours after the surgery, but the new protocol uses a long lasting medication called liposomal bupivacaine, which is injected into the incision and paired with oral acetaminophen and ibuprofen. The protocol allows the physicians to stay ahead of the pain and not need opioids.

Though patients still have the option of taking opioids, hospital staff says there has been a 70 percent reduction in opioid use after C-sections, and the time spent in the hospital is down as well. “We are discharging people the day after surgery,” said Dr. Cynthia English, an OBGYN at Texas Health Southwest,  via release.

“This is yet another example of the innovative ways Texas Health is combatting the opioid crisis,” said Dr. Glenn Hardesty, an emergency physician at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano and co-chairman of Texas Health’s Comprehensive Opioid Steering Committee via release.”It’s difficult if not impossible to predict people’s responses to opioids, so we want to continue to decrease exposure.”

The opioid crisis has led to some hospital systems suing drug manufacturers and distributors, while providers are also looking for other ways to manage pain post surgery. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says that130 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose.


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