By WECT Staff | January 20, 2020 at 4:26 PM EST – Updated January 21 at 11:47 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – New Hanover Regional Medical Center announced that in the second year of its program to reduce opioid prescriptions, the number of pills prescribed to patients is down 27 percent compared to where they started in 2017.
In a news release issued Monday, hospital officials said the new guidelines kept approximately 1.1 million opioid pills from being distributed to the community since the new prescribing practices went into effect, which equals a 26.93 percent drop compared to the 4.2 million pills that were prescribed in 2017.
“We haven’t solved the opioid problem in our community, but after two years we continue to see positive results,” said Dr. Kevin Cannon, Chair of NHRMC Opioid Task Force. “We are grateful to the physicians, pharmacists and nurses who have helped support this important effort, and to the patients for seeing the value in our approach.”
Officials say the number of patients prescribed opioid alternatives has increased by more than 700 percent, reflecting the intentional shift to treating pain differently.
Prescriptions for Naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, continue to increase and were up 783 percent in the same two-year time frame.
For those looking to properly dispose of unused medications, NHMRC has set up permanent medication drop boxes at the NHRMC Outpatient Pharmacy, ED-North, and Pender Memorial Hospital as part of community-wide opioid-reduction efforts.
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