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Task force suggests 14 guidelines to help battle opioid abuse

Posted at 7:35 PM, Apr 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-12 19:35:55-04

RICHMOND, VA. --Virginia is trying to tackle the growing epidemic of opioid abuse. A recently created task force is now on the front lines with new guidelines for emergency room workers to follow.

The task force was created by the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.

The goal is to try and reduce the drug addiction and overdose numbers. The statistics are sobering and give a grim glimpse into how bad the epidemic really is. In the United States, 78 Americans die every day from opioid abuse.

Here in Virginia, we have seen more than 4 thousand people overdose on Opioids since 2007.  Experts say it is an epidemic plaguing the nation.

Johns Shinholser, a recovering addict with more than 30 years sober under his belt runs the McShin Foundation.  He says it’s good to see hospitals acknowledge that they must play a part in ending this epidemic, but Shinholser says it’s not enough.

“I think what they should look at is when the opiate-seeking addict comes to the ER that they deliver appropriate care for that opiate-seeking addict. That could be immediate detox protocol or access to recovery support services,” Shinholser added.

Tuesday, a Virginia task force created to reduce Opioid abuse shared 14 new guidelines to help emergency room doctors. Among them, advising prescribers to give medication for the shortest possible time, discouraging emergency rooms from providing replacement prescriptions, and encouraging providers to check the Prescription Monitoring Database before writing prescriptions for opioids.

Dr. John Duval with VCU Hospitals and Clinics said a staggering 259 million prescriptions for opiates were issued in the U.S. last year.

“When you juxtapose that against the population, that's enough medicine for everyone in the U-S. to have a bottle of pills,"  Duval explained.

The task force that created the new guidelines was led by hospital representatives from across Virginia.