McLeod Regional Medical Center program aims to limit opioid exposure

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FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – The McLeod Health Foundation is helping the opioid epidemic with a new program, that started with a $560,000 grant from The Duke Endowment.

The opioid stewardship program is built to minimize opioid exposure, while at the same time, helping patients to manage pain.

“Even by limiting the amount of opioids that we were using, we were actually controlling patients’ pain better as well,” said McLeod Regional Medical Center Clinical Pharmacy Coordinator Jenna Swindler.

Three to six percent of patients is how many people exposed to opioids through surgery end up becoming tolerant of, or dependent on, the drug.

“For so long, people have just perceived medications as a way to make something better, and in reality, they don’t come without risk or without side effects,” said Swindler.

McLeod Regional Medical Center looks to change that with an opioid stewardship program.

The protocol would limit opioid use, and use more common painkillers like Motrin or Tylenol to preemptively treat pain.

“Tylenol, we just do pretty [regularly], a baseline dose, and then give it every eight hours, for about 48 hours, to try to stay ahead of the pain, so we usually don’t go up on the dose with that at all,” Swindler pointed out.

Swindler says disposal of these drugs is also something they’re trying to help, because someone may be prescribed ten Percocet, but may only take one or two pills.

“Instead of keeping them, and potentially them being diverted into the wrong hands, the best thing to do with that is to dispose them,” she explained.

Surgery discharge guidelines are also part of the program, that gives a patient a specific amount of pain medicine according to their post-surgery pain level, thus requiring them to call back if their pain isn’t being controlled.

“Instead of trying to help with the mass of problem it has already become, we wanted to develop a project that really kept us from contributing to further chronic opioid use,” Swindler said.

McLeod Regional Medical Center is in the early stages of forming a committee to oversee opioid use and pain management.

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