Doctors at the University of Mississippi Medical Center are working to prevent and reduce Opioid addiction. Medical experts say an average of half a million Opioid pills are dispensed daily by doctors in Mississippi.
Now a team of physicians is changing the way patients are treated for pain.
"When I started feeling the actual cravings for them that's when I should have asked for help and that was a decade ago," said Tom, a veteran battling Opioid addiction.
Tom shared his story about his struggles in November. Today University of Mississippi Medical Center physicians are working on a model that would prevent Opioid dependency through alternative methods.
Other options include treating pain with non-pharmaceuticals, acupuncture, physical and occupational therapy.
Doctors suggest that patients also be given non-opiate medications like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin and muscle relaxers.
Anesthesiologist Dr. Bill Gusa is the department's Vice Chair for Pain Services and says their plan is to bring all physicians together to avoid the trend of prescribing Opioids especially among primary care doctors.
"With the addiction being an issue, the problem is that a lot of addiction specialists don't deal with pain and a lot of pain specialists don't deal with addiction and so here we're trying to get a program together where we're talking to one another so that we can better affect the outcomes," said Gusa.
The teaching hospital is now starting with medical students training them through residency not to just prescribe pain medications but incorporate nutrition before surgery, optimal hydration the day of surgery and using other classes of medications which according to Gusa, reduce infection rates and hospital stays.
The plan is in response to proposed changes made by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that would put limits on pharmacies filling Opioid prescriptions for Medicare beneficiaries.
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