Dr. Michael Chipman, medical director of the Emergency Department at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, is part of the Pain Management Leadership Team.

Addressing a Nationwide Crises in Southern Illinois

The United States is in the midst of the deadliest drug crisis in its history. Fueled by a growing opioid/heroin epidemic, overdoses are now the leading cause of death for people under the age of 50. Illinois has seen opioid overdoses kill almost 11,00 people during the last decade, including a major increase in some Southern Illinois counties. One numbing statistic speaks volumes: the overdose death rate jumped 509 percent in Jackson County from 2010 - 2015, coupled with countless emergency department visits and hospital stays. 

With this situation at the forefront, SIH is collaborating with stakeholders to address the epidemic in our region. Enter the Pain Management Leadership Team charged with finding ways to tackle the misuse and abuse of opioids by examining and improving practices related to pain assessment, pain management and safe opioid prescribing and use. To help accomplish this goal, SIH launched a steering committee to examine the opioid issue, tasking four teams to evaluate current policies and practices and developed recommendations. "There are four sub-committees reporting on inpatient, outpatient, emergency department and community education, prevention and outreach," says SIH Senior Vice President and Chief Medical officer Marci Moore-Connelley, MD, who is also the executive sponsor of the initiative. "A great deal of work is being done regarding how to better address patient pain needs when opioids are prescribed"

Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program

To this end, SIH has helped make it easier for physicians to access crucial information when deciding if opioids should be prescribed. On Jan. 1, 2018, a mandate was issued to begin using the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program, which is a state-run electronic database to track a patient's history regarding the prescribing and dispensing of controlled prescription drugs. "Tracking this before was a time-consuming struggle, as the information was often not in electronic medical records," Dr. Moore-Connelley explains. "Now such data is integrated within our Epic electronic medical record system, allowing our physicians to look at the report as part of their work flow. They have welcomed this new procedure." 

Although the war on opioid addiction remains an ongoing predicament, Dr. Moore-Connelley sees progress being made. "More education on how we can deal with the issue is on the horizon, and we will continue to appeal to everyone in the area communities to help us be part of the solution. We all can, and must, help make a difference."