Agencies to Fight Drug Abuse; Health Care Coalition Volunteers New Guidelines to Prevent Pill-Popping

By Howard, Kate | The Florida Times Union, September 15, 2011 | Go to article overview

Agencies to Fight Drug Abuse; Health Care Coalition Volunteers New Guidelines to Prevent Pill-Popping


Howard, Kate, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Kate Howard

As pill mills are shut down and the supply of prescription drugs in the streets slows, addicts often turn to the one place that sees patients 24 hours a day: hospital emergency rooms.

That's why a group of Northeast Florida health care agencies are adopting a set of voluntary guidelines they say mirror state law and direct them toward their primary goal of eliminating themselves as a source for prescription drug abuse. The Quality Collaborative of Northeast Florida, a group of 15 public and private health care organizations, announced the guidelines at the University of North Florida on Wednesday.

"Every shift I've worked in the emergency room, there are usually two to three people who come in with what looks like drug-seeking behavior," said Capt. Lynn Welling, commanding officer of Jacksonville Naval Hospital. "The problem is out there, and it's prevalent."

Welling said the naval hospital will be the first to adopt the guidelines, called "Patients First," starting Oct. 1. The guidelines for emergency rooms include discouraging the prescribing of narcotics for chronic pain, sharing information between hospitals to prevent doctor-shopping or prescription interactions and refusing to replace lost or stolen prescriptions. The emergency room will also enact policies to encourage one doctor prescribing all of a patient's controlled-substance prescriptions.

This may be easier for the naval hospital to accomplish than others, since they have access to electronic records, Welling said. But other hospitals involved in the initiative, including St. Vincent's, Baptist Health and Shands Jacksonville, plan to enact the guidelines in the coming months.

The Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville will also adopt the guidelines, said CEO William Rupp. …

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