Organizing to combat Kentucky’s opioid crisis
The opioid crisis continues to claim the lives of increasingly more Americans every year, with more than 1,500 deaths in Kentucky alone in 2017.
While illicit fentanyl and heroin are the primary drivers of overdose mortality, prescription opioids account for nearly 90 percent of misused opioids in the United States. Additionally, increasing data suggests non-opioid therapies may work better than opioids for many types of pain.
About the Office of Opioid Safety
The University of Kentucky Office of Opioid Safety consists of a multidisciplinary team of healthcare providers working to reduce unnecessary opioid use and raise awareness within UK HealthCare and throughout Kentucky.
As the first such office in the Commonwealth, we aim to reduce inappropriate prescription opioid use through educational sessions for clinicians regarding safe opioid use and communication, resources for patients to aid with pain management, and real-time data analysis.
Since the inception of the office in 2017, UK HealthCare has:
- Reduced inpatient opioid use equivalent to more than 250,000 oxycodone 5mg tablets per year.
- Reduced high-risk prescriptions by over half.
- Improved overall pain ratings from hospitalized patients
- Decreased opioid prescriptions at hospital discharge by an average of 25 per week.
- Provided naloxone to more than 2,000 patients within the healthcare system.
Doug Oyler, PharmD – Director
Dr. Oyler serves as the director of the Office of Opioid Safety within UK HealthCare and leads the institution’s efforts related to opioid stewardship and responsible opioid prescribing. Additionally, he maintains a practice within surgical and trauma critical care and a teaching commitment in the UK College of Pharmacy.
Dr. Oyler received his doctor of pharmacy degree from the University of Kentucky, where he then completed a pharmacy practice residency and critical care specialty residency. He then completed a fellowship in academic pharmacy at the UK College of Pharmacy.
Phillip Chang, MD, Chief Medical Officer, UK HealthCare
Dr. Phillip Chang talks about UK HealthCare's approach to pain management (3:32)
Overdose deaths again hit record in 2017 (August 2018)
Provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates 72,000 Americans died from drug overdose in 2017, the most of any year on record. In Kentucky, 1,565 Kentuckians died from a drug overdose in 2017, an increase of 11 percent from 2016. The increase in both cases is largely due to illicit fentanyl.
National Quality Partners releases opioid stewardship playbook (March 2018)
In March 2018, the National Quality Partners released its opioid stewardship playbook, the most comprehensive guideline for opioid stewardship programs to date. The guide offers more than 100 actionable items for new or established programs, covering leadership and culture, metrics, outreach, and more. The playbook can be purchased on the National Quality Forum website.
While opioids remain a critical component of pain care for certain populations and kinds of pain, this benefit must be balanced with the inherent risks of opioid therapy.
Resources for patients and families
- Mobile Apps for Patient Assistance with Pain and Stress (PDF, 168 KB)
- Patient Education: Non-Opioid Chronic Pain Treatment (PDF, 1.3 MB)
- Patient Education: Opioid Initiation Checklist (PDF, 36 KB)
- Prescription drug disposal locations
- Naloxone locator
Services offered at UK HealthCare
Do you or someone you know struggle with addiction? Help is available:
- VA Opioid Taper Decision Tool
- CDC Pocket Guide: Tapering Opioids for Chronic Pain
- Mayo Clinic – Tapering Long-term Opioid Therapy in Chronic Noncancer Pain