COLORADO SPRINGS – UCHealth has taken many steps to fight the national opioid crisis here in Colorado, and they just rolled out a new patient awareness campaign in their hospitals across the state.
New signs have recently gone up encouraging patients to have a healthy talk with their doctors about opioids and managing pain.
Dr. David Steinbruner, UCHealth Memorial’s chief of staff and an emergency medicine physician, says he believes the tide is beginning to turn in the fight against opioid abuse. “I think with the help of the media sharing these stories, patients are now coming to us and saying, ‘I’m a little concerned about these drugs, talk to me about it.’ The whole point of the campaign UCHealth is doing is to try to actually answer the patients’ needs. Patients have asked us, “Hey doc, I need you to address this issue, I’m worried about opiates, I see stories in the media, I have friends or I have family that have been affected by it. Talk to me about this medication. Tell me about the consequences, tell me about addiction, tell me if I really need it – or are there alternatives.’ ”
Focusing the messaging of this campaign in their facilities is intentional, says Dr. Steinbruner. “We’re putting the signs in elevators, and (patients) come out from the procedure or operation and the first thing in their brain is the last thing they saw. And then they will say, ‘Tell me about that medicine you’re about to give me.’ I love that. We (as doctors) love having that conversation with patients because it means we can engage with them about our concerns. Many times I think we (as doctors) have been afraid as being perceived as uncaring if we would say, ‘We’re concerned about giving you opiates.’ Then patients might say, ‘Are you not treating my pain?’ Now, patients are saying, ‘If you say you’re concerned about opiates, that means you really care about my health, let’s talk about that’.”
Dr. Steinbruner also says he hopes having these conversations about taking pain medication, treating pain and properly getting rid of unused prescriptions will convey a couple of messages. “I think that tells them that we’re serious about it and we want them to be proactive and engaged in their health. Remember the big part of medicine is I can do your health care, but you’re responsible for your health. I’m just there to help you.”
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