Trying to reduce opioid prescriptions - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Trying to reduce opioid prescriptions

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WASHINGTON, U.S. - Opioids are one of the leading causes of death and injury in Washington, more so than car accidents and gun deaths. This is part of the reason the Department of Health announced changes to prescriptions this week. These changes blend well with a new initiative several local health systems are a part of. 
"What we've seen is that we've brought 2,500 scripts or prescriptions a quarter off the streets of Washington," said Dr. Nathan Schlicher, Vice President of Washington State Medical Association.

Those are just some of the results Washington State Medical Association (WSMA), Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) and Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) have seen from the Better Prescribing, Better Treatment initiative. 

Dr. Schliher says this initiative goes hand in hand with the new rules the Department of Health recently announced and he says it does even more.

"What we wanted to look at was at the amount, the dose, and really the give feedback to help educate providers and look at more education than at punitive attempts such as the Department of Health is doing with the new guidelines," said Schlicher.

The initiative started last year and already 26 health systems with 16,000 physicians have jumped on board, some of which are even in Yakima.

"Yakima Regional, Virginia Mason is participating and we've got Providence, which I believe has some clinics out there as well," said Schlicher.

Dr. Schliher says the initiative is effective because of a three step approach,"Guidelines, exemption and feedback and that's all it takes to change the way we prescribe."

When asking Dr. Schliher how the nation ended up in a opioid epidemic he says that's an issue pharmaceutical companies started.

"In the 1990's and the early 2000 pain was the fifth vital sign and there was industry and pharmaceuticals that were pushing that chronic opioid therapy was safe and, that there was no down side, and we've really come to find out that's not true, and so we have to re-educate, we have to change the way we practice," said Schlicher.

For those interested in joining the Better Prescribing, Better Treatment initiative you can reach out to the WSMA for more information.