MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Memphis' Baptist Hospital is the first hospital in the state to offer patients alternative medications. The hospital is trying to combat the growing opioid problem.
Baptist Hospital's pharmacy manager Dawn Waddell told FOX13 opioids deaths in our state is a huge issue.
"In Tennessee, we're actually 2nd in the nation for opioids deaths and we actually have more opioids prescription in the state of Tennessee compared to people," Waddell said.
To put this into perspective, in 2015, a little more than 6.6 million people live in Tennessee, yet more than 7.8 prescriptions for opioids were written in this state. That is a million more opioid prescriptions than there are people. This is why Baptist Hospital created opioid lite.
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"We're trying to provide pain relief for you and also look out for you in the long run, not to expose you to an opioid if you don't need one, so therefore you're not addicted later on," said lead pharmacist Julie Bennett.
When patients come into the emergency room for migraines, fractures, kidney stones or even abdominal pain, instead of handing out an opioid, the hospital will now offer a non-addicting medication as its first treatment option.
"We try not to use a lot of opioids here so we're going to try some alternatives first," said lead pharmacist Zack Brent.
Baptist Hospital told FOX13 the research shows the alternative medications typically work better and faster than an opioid.
"It doesn't provide the euphoric effect that opioids do, changes the brains chemistry that makes us want to come back for more," Brent said.
Baptist said since January of 2017, when they started the program, there has been a more than 60% decrease in opioid used at this hospital.
"A conversation is actually starting to change the culture in the e-d and patients are now coming in say they don't want opioids," Waddell told FOX13.
Baptist said this is about saving lives and curbing a growing addiction.
"We'll try some magnesium, we'll try some alternative medications, will they work? They definitely will."
Baptist Hospital is now working with the Tennessee Hospital Association and the Tennessee Department of Health to create a similar opioid decrease plan across the entire state.
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