It was my privilege to present along with Dr. Paul Peak of Sedgwick at the 2016 National RX Drug and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, Georgia to discuss dangerous prescribing practices and at-risk patients. The conference was highlighted by a public appearance by President Obama who spoke to those in attendance. One thing the President said that really resonated with me is that, even though there is a lot in the press about getting NARCAN in the hands of addicts, it is equally important that we find a way to prevent the addiction in the first place. President Obama was on a panel moderated by Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN and it included an ER doctor and a young woman who was a heroin addict. She had a very powerful story that demonstrated the need for more resources to quickly address life-threatening addictions. She shared that when she hit rock bottom and wanted to get into rehab she had to wait three weeks for approval.
The conference also emphasized the necessity for removing the stigma related to addiction and to treat addicts as individuals with a life-threatening disease. The most powerful thing at the conference was the summit’s “Life Counts Clock” which revealed an estimated 201 deaths due to opioid-related overdoses occurred during the conference. Statistics show that 78 people die every day in this country from drug overdoses. The leaders at the conference included governors, members of congress, business leaders and medical professionals who gathered to emphasize the urgency to find a comprehensive, multi-faceted solution for the national drug epidemic.
Our presentation, “Dangerous prescribing practices and at-risk patients” focused on three things:
- Identifying dangerous prescibing practices observed in management of workers’ compensation insurance claims
- Highlighting strategies that have proven successful in resolving dangerous prescribing practices
- Finding approaches to identify and manage high-risk claims within the workers’ compensation population
I have provided a link to our full presentation at the end of this post. What I hope you can take away from this information is that it takes a team approach to really provide meaningful drug prevention and intervention strategies. At Sedgwick, our approach is proving extremely successful for the injured workers we help each day. Being an advocate for the injured worker is central to finding the best outcomes. Best practices to follow are:
- Preventing compound medication prescriptions
- Avoiding dangerous combinations of medications
- Using over-the-counter topical medications when needed
- Educating the physician and injured employee regarding the dangers of prescription drugs
These are straightforward and successful practices. In 2015, we showed that we care in our pharmacy program by decreasing the morphine equivalent dosage for impacted workers by 50% and we restored life for 640 people who were weaned from long-term opioid use. This is just one of the many ways having a successful program can make a difference.
I encourage you to view our slide presentation located here. Most importantly please leave your thoughts and comments here as Dr. Peak and I both are interested in hearing what you have to say on this important topic.
Dr. Teresa Bartlett, SVP, Medical Quality