All this week, state officials are looking to shine a light on the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania.
Now, they’ve released new guidelines for doctors prescribing those drugs to patients in an attempt to curb addiction.
‘Stop Overdoses in PA, Get Help Now’ is a week-long initiative to fight the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania. Now, the state’s Department of Health updated its guidelines for doctors prescribing opioid medication in the emergency room.
Dr. Levine says, “We always want physicians, if they’re going to prescribe an opioid, to use the lowest dose for the smallest period of time.”
The guidelines also say that all emergency departments in the state should be ready to treat patients who are already addicted with medication that can prevent painful withdrawal symptoms and help them stop using illegal opioids.
Levine says, “We have to get past the stigma associated with addiction. That it’s somehow a moral failing. It is not. It is a medical condition, it’s a disease, and we have to treat it like that.”
The updated guidelines also recommend co-prescribing the overdose reversal drug Naloxone to at-risk patients being treated with opioids. “So,” Levine explains, “in case someone might inadvertantly overdose, that their family will have the availability of that life saving medication.”
Close to 80 state health centers and local health departments across the state will be providing Naloxone for free tomorrow as part of ‘Stop Overdoses in PA’ week.