A program at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines that’s designed to prevent prescription drug abuse will soon be made available to other hospitals across the state.
Mercy’s Dr. Gary Hemann implemented the program a couple years ago for reviewing emergency department pain medication prescriptions.
“We all recognize we want to take care of patients and help them the best we can, but we also need to recognize some of the things we might do – even inadvertently – that could be a potential problem for those patients individually…or could harm others (the drugs) are not prescribed for,” Hemann said.
Iowa Drug Policy Coordinator Steve Lukan on Monday recognized Dr. Hemann with a special state award for his efforts to reduce substance abuse. Lukan noted that prescription drug abuse accounted for a record 62 overdose deaths in Iowa in 2011. “That is a real challenge we’re trying to address,” Lukan said.
In addition to launching the program at Mercy, Lukan said Dr. Hemann has also forged a coalition of health care organizations to make the program available to all Iowa hospitals. “We see some very positive benefits of what’s been happening here at (Mercy Medical Center) and it’s something that could be potentially replicated across the state,” Lukan said.
Hemann said his plan would standardize the prescribing of pain medications in emergency settings around Iowa. “How it’s going to progress, I’m not sure yet,” Hemann said. “But, we do have some final materials ready for a variety of individual hospitals and medical staff in those communities to base the rational…for how they address the issues in their own emergency departments.”
Lukan said Hemann’s approach also relies on the use of Iowa’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. The statewide database may be checked by doctors and pharmacists to evaluate a patient’s use of controlled substances. More information about medicine abuse is available at: www.TakeADoseOfTruth.com.