Published in the September 2017 issue of Today’s Hospitalist
IN THIS MONTH’S ISSUE, two stories take a look at how the opioid epidemic is tearing up the country, and the impact it’s having on hospitalists.
We’ve all seen news coverage about how opioids are destroying families and entire communities, but the opioid crisis is also affecting the medical community. On the inpatient side, opioids are among the most common causes of adverse events. As a result, hospitalists have an opportunity to help, whether it’s making sure patients don’t leave the hospital with a stockpile of opioids that could lead to an addiction problem, or treating inpatients who already are opioid-dependent.
Our feature outlines some simple strategies hospitalists can use to make sure their opioid prescribing isn’t making the crisis any worse. That means efficiently prescribing opioids for patients suffering from both pain and substance use disorders and minimizing the use of opioids when appropriate.
Our commentary takes a more personal look. A hospitalist from Dayton, Ohio, explains that thanks to opioids, her community measures the number of drug-related deaths per day, not per week or month.
The opioid epidemic is exhausting not only that city at large, but its clinicians. According to the author, a constant barrage of verbal and physical abuse has led to a “degradation of empathy and willingness to keep endlessly helping drug abusers.” Many of her colleagues see futility in caring for patients who are going to die of a drug-related problem, despite their best efforts.
It’s a somber assessment of the state of affairs now in one American city. I suspect many of you are experiencing the same.
Editor & Publisher