North Texas hospital system aiming to reduce opioid use

Medical City Healthcare initiative focused on prescriptions

Medical City Healthcare initiative focused on prescriptions

Opioid prescriptions have been reduced by 21% in the emergency rooms of Medical City Healthcare’s North Texas hospitals since the institution launched its Crush the Crisis initiative in November 2018.

Dr. Holly Baselle, medical director of emergency services at Medical City Alliance, said the initiative is a local response to the growing opioid epidemic, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified as a national health crisis.

“The opioid epidemic has really become a major issue in the U.S.—130 people are dying daily from it,” Baselle said. “It’s got a big impact on our community, too. Not only do you then have 130 people a day that are fatally overdosing because of this, you have their family members, their children, their communities that are all suffering from it, too.”

Hospitals across the state—including those in the Medical City and Texas Health systems—are addressing the opioid epidemic through similar initiatives, said Karen Kendrick, vice president of clinical initiatives and quality at the Texas Hospital Association.

“Our hospitals are doing a great job of monitoring the types of medications they’re prescribing, using alternatives to opioid medications whenever possible and then giving only a limited prescription until patients can get to a primary care physician and be managed,” Kendrick said.

The opioid epidemic, Baselle said, is not just a national problem, but a local one, too.

CDC data reveals that in 2017, there were nearly 54 opioid prescriptions per 100 residents in Denton County and about 61 opioid prescriptions per 100 residents in Tarrant County.

“This isn’t a crisis that has a preference,” Medical City Lewisville CEO LaSharndra Barbarin said. “It doesn’t have a certain economic status. It doesn’t differentiate by race, gender or education. It really is a crisis that is prevalent throughout all of the areas in North Texas.”

Baselle said doctors across both the Medical City Healthcare system and the state have started to use a prescription monitoring system available to physicians through the Texas Department of State Health Services. The database allows physicians to identify patients who may be at risk for potential overdose.

“It allows caregivers to see the controlled substance history of patients and identify those with opioid use disorder,” Dr. Glenn Hardesty, an emergency physician who is in charge of the Texas Health system’s efforts to reduce opioids, said in a written statement.

Baselle said combating the opioid epidemic takes a community effort.

“It’s part of our responsibility to help control how many of these medications are being prescribed or are available in medicine cabinets and homes and on the street,” Baselle said.

Medical City Healthcare is also introducing pain management strategies.

Post-surgery patients now receive virtual reality headsets to help with pain management by providing a distraction. The free headset connects to a smartphone and allows users to immerse themselves in a 360-degree virtual environment of their choice.

The idea, Barbarin said, is that patients will be able to take pain medicine less frequently by keeping their minds on something else.

The Medical City initiative also stresses the importance of disposing of unwanted medication safely.

Drug take-back boxes were installed in 12 Medical City hospitals in September, including one at Medical City Alliance, to provide individuals with locations to safely and anonymously drop off prescription opioids and other unwanted or expired medications.

Barbarin said it is important to use safe medication disposal methods such as this one because flushing medication down a toilet or a drain can create potential health and environmental hazards. Throwing medication in the trash can inadvertently make it accessible to people who are already addicted to prescription drugs, she added.

Daniel Houston contributed to this report.
By Anna Herod
Anna Herod covers local government, education, business and the environment as the editor of Community Impact Newspaper's Lewisville/Flower Mound/Highland Village edition. In the past, Anna served as the reporter for Community Impact's San Marcos/Buda/Kyle paper. Her bylines have appeared in the Austin American-Statesman, Hays Free Press and The Burleson Star. She is a graduate of Texas State University's School of Journalism and Mass Communication.


MOST RECENT

A lone runner jogs on a snow-covered road in Austin. Transportation projects across the city were briefly paused due to Winter Storm Uri. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
ERCOT: Texas power system was less than 5 minutes from collapse during winter storm

ERCOT's CEO offered details into what lead to the massive blackouts that left millions of Texans in the cold last week.

The Keller ISD Education Center was one of at least 16 district campuses or buildings to be affected by power outages due to a winter storm Feb. 15. (Courtesy Keller ISD)
Keller ISD officials assess power outages, storm damage at multiple campuses

Keller ISD officials continue to calculate the extent of the damage caused by a severe winter storm the week of Feb. 15.

Nonprofit Christ's Haven for Children in Keller was a recipient during the first round of PPP funding. (Design by Ellen Jackson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Stimulus loans help save jobs, local businesses in Keller, Roanoke, north Fort Worth

In late December, a second round worth $284 billion was approved to benefit small businesses that exhausted their initial loan or did not receive a loan during the first round.

Chipotle Mexican Grill opened a new Plano location Feb. 20 at the corner of Independence Parkway and Legacy Drive. (Courtesy Chipotle Mexican Grill)
Plano Chipotle opens with drive-thru; Tailgaters sports bar opens in Frisco and more DFW-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce has rebranded with a new logo and website. (Courtesy Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce)
Fort Worth chamber rebranding represents 'future of Fort Worth business community'

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce in January launched a new brand for the organization.

Also part of the second phase of the city's coronavirus stimulus, the city is currently operating a Give Small, Help Big in 76262 campaign. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
Roanoke coronavirus stimulus program helps 63 local businesses

The city of Roanoke continues to find ways to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic for local businesses.

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been allocated to Tarrant County since Dec. 14. (Sandra Sadek/Community Impact Newspaper)
Tarrant County officials combat COVID-19 surge with vaccine

As demand for the vaccine grows, Tarrant County has opened four distribution sites as part of a massive campaign to vaccinate residents.

cars on snowy road
Texas Disaster Declaration opens door to federal aid for losses sustained during winter storms

Individuals and businesses who sustained losses during the February 2021 winter storms are eligible for federal assistance, according to a Texas Disaster Declaration approved

Gov. Greg Abbott held a press conference Feb. 19 updating residents on the state's response to recent winter storms. (Courtesy Office of the Governor)
Gov. Abbott: Texas is working with federal, local agencies to offer financial relief, resources to residents impacted by winter storms

Gov. Greg Abbott said the state continues to prioritize four main areas of concern: power, water, supplies and fuel production.

ERCOT president and chief executive Bill Magness (left) was joined by the electric grid manager's senior director of system operations Dan Woodfin on Feb. 19 for a briefing on the company's emergency operations. (Screenshot via ERCOT livestream)
ERCOT chief: 'We are completely back to normal operations' as of Feb. 19

Officials with the Texas electric grid manager also said they are preparing for state and federal reviews of this week's power outages.

The free month of storage is available to customers renting new units and is subject to vacancy at each U-Haul facility. (Courtesy U-Haul)
U-Haul offering Texans 30 free days of storage

The 30-day offer also applies to U-Box portable storage containers, which have 257 cubic feet of space and a 1 ton capacity.

H-E-B stores across Texas have limited store hours and placed purchase limits on some high-demand products due to ongoing severe winter weather, H-E-B officials announced Feb. 19. (Courtesy H-E-B)
H-E-B, Central Market limit store hours, product purchases due to severe winter weather

H-E-B stores across Texas have limited store hours and placed purchase limits on some high-demand products due to ongoing severe winter weather, H-E-B officials announced Feb. 19.