KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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On The Front Line Of Opioid Crisis, One Emergency Department Experiments With Alternative Treatment

The New Jersey hospital is hoping its initiative to try other treatments before prescribing opioids will help in the epidemic that's sweeping the country. In the first two months, 75 percent of the 300 patients that have gone through the program did not need opioids. In other news, nurses and hospitals are changing their approach when it comes to taking drug-dependent babies away from their mothers.

The Associated Press: As Crisis Rages, Hospital Works To Reduce Opioids In The ER
To combat what health professionals say is a nationwide epidemic ... St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson, has been using opioid alternative protocols in its emergency room since January. The goal of the Alternatives to Opiates (ALTO) program is to try to treat most patients without opioids before considering using them. In the first two months, 75 percent of the 300 patients that have gone through the program did not need opioids, Rosenberg said. Patients with cancer or those with chronic pain who are already dependent on opioids aren't part of the program. (3/28)

Kaiser Health News: A Nurse's Lesson: Babies In Opioid Withdrawal Still Need Mom
Like many hospitals across the country, [Hospital of Central Connecticut] has seen the number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome go up dramatically in recent years. The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports more than 21,000 infants in the U.S. were born in withdrawal from opioids in 2012, the most recent year for which data are available. The hospital says each baby costs roughly $50,000 to treat. These fragile and fitful babies present new challenges for hospitals. There’s research that suggests they may do best when they can be held for hours, by their mothers, in a quiet, private room as they go through the process of being weaned off the drugs. But delivering that care means changing hospital systems and attitudes about addiction among doctors and nurses. (Cohen, 3/29)

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