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Understanding Opioids

DrugsEvery day, more than 115 Americans die after overdosing on opioids. The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. In 2017, Confluence Health embarked on a journey committed to reducing these statics in our region.

1. The Challenge

  • To address the prescription drug abuse epidemic
  • 2.4 million Americans have severe opioid use disorder
  • Overdose deaths from prescription drugs have outpaced mortality from motor vehicle accidents since 2013
  • In 2016, life expectancy of middle aged men dropped due to opioid addiction and overdose
  • Average annual deaths associated with opioid use in the Confluence Health service area:17.6

2. The Goal

  • Develop a comprehensive and coordinated program to address the prescription drug abuse epidemic
  • Develop an acute prescription pain algorithm with the goal of reducing the quantity of medications prescribed
  • Develop a chronic opioid algorithm with the goal of reducing the total morphine equivalents per day (MED) from 120 mg to 80 mg
  • Develop a drug diversion committee that coordinates the organizational approach to managing drug diversion

3. Community Impact: Standard Approach to Opioid Management

Appropriate Prescribing:

  • Reduce overall quantities of prescription pain medications being prescribed

Diversion Prevention:

  • Appropriate processes to prevent diversion of prescription medications
  • Diversion Response Team
  • Diversion oversite committee


  • Reset patient expectations regarding pain control (acute and chronic)
  • Reset provider expectations regarding pain management
  • Improve staff ability to assess prescription pain medication refill requests
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