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Prescribe Safe: Combating Opioid Abuse
This story was originally published in the 100 Million Healthier Lives Change Library and is brought to you through partnership with 100 Million Healthier Lives and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
A National Epidemic
- The nation's fastest- growing drug problem is prescription drug abuse.
- Prescription drug-related deaths exceed those from cocaine and heroin combined.
- $53 billion a year is lost in productivity, medical and criminal justice costs due to prescription misuse and abuse.
- Prescription drugs cause more deaths than car accidents.
Montage Health's Approach
"We were seeing patient after patient coming into the emergency room looking for a fix. We can't accept this for our community, so we decided not to." - Dr. Reb Close, Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, part of Montage Health
Montage Health recognized that Monterey County, California needed a way to control abuse and misuse of prescription drugs. It had become a huge problem, with many people coming to the emergency department for pain medications or arriving after an overdose. In partnership with 20 other organizations, Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, part of Montage Health, helped develop Monterey County Prescribe Safe Initiative (MCPSI), also known as Prescribe Safe.
The initiative aims to improve safe use of prescription drugs; reduce inappropriate prescribing of prescription pain medications and sedatives; increase access to treatment for addiction; and improve education to the public and medical community of the dangers of prescription drugs.
Since 2014, Prescribe Safe developed these interventions:
- Educating doctors, pharmacists and patients
- Safe pain relief alternatives
- Reducing exposure to opioids
- Partnering with law enforcement
- Reducing overdoses Community outreach
The Impact: Saving Lives
As described in "Prescribing more safely: Targeting opioid abuse, misuse," Prescribe Safe had measurable success in the first three years, with a large decline in opioid-related deaths, since it's 2014 launch.
"A teenager approached me at the hospital and asked if she could give me a hug. I thanked her and asked her why. With tears in her eyes she said, ‘I’m meeting my real mom for the first time — she’s not high. Thank you for bringing her back to me.’ I get goosebumps just thinking about it." - Dr. Casey Grover, Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula
"The whole idea of Prescribe Safe is novel. We’re one of the top mentor counties doing this in California. I go out and speak to local law enforcement agencies and other counties’ district attorney’s offices and explain Prescribe Safe, and it’s amazing how excited they are about starting something in their own county and following our lead." - Amy Patterson, Monterey County Deputy District Attorney
Community Engagement and Outreach
The initiative released a number of resources, including videos and articles, to inform, educate and reach out to community members and patients.