Summa Health working to eliminate opioids from all surgeries

Summa Health working to eliminate opioids from all surgeries
(AP Photo/Patrick Sison) (Patrick Sison)

AKRON, OH (WOIO) - Akron’s Hospital system Summa Health is working to stop the opioid epidemic by ending the use of opiates from pre-surgery, post-surgery. and pain management treatments.

Back in Jan. 2017, Summa Health said their hospital system was using narcotics in 98 percent of procedures.

That total for opiate use in procedures then dropped down to 43 percent with total narcotics use going down more than 90 percent in Nov. 2018, according to Thomas Mark, M.D. Chair, Department of Anesthesia Summa Health.

A statement from Summa Health on the 2019 plan said:

“Summa Health’s goal by the end of 2019 is to use narcotics in 10 percent or less of all surgeries throughout the health system. We are currently at 20 percent for our surgical cases. Our ultimate goal is to eliminate opiates from the operating rooms completely.”

According to Dr. Mark, patients that were not prescribed opioids for procedures returned home much earlier due to quicker recovery times and had higher satisfaction rates than patients that were prescribed the narcotics:

“Narcotics have very strong, unpleasant side effects, including: constipation, nausea, vomiting and drowsiness. What you may not know about opioids is they actually make the recovery time last longer. Narcotics mostly put the patient to sleep and eliminate pain but also suppress the immune system, leading to a longer road to recovery.”

Dr. Mark explained how Summa Health is eliminating the need for opioids as much as possible:

  • "Regional blocks with local anesthetic can last for 24-36 hours. There are currently 15 different types of blocks that can assist with a variety of procedures. The side effects are relatively minimal and most patients begin recovery shortly after they wear off. At Summa, these are now being used in almost 50 percent of all procedures.
  • For those who need pain control for +24 hours, a continuous peripheral nerve block can be used to continuously deliver pain medication directly to an affected area of the body. Most surgeons place the catheter before general anesthesia wears off. Not only does the catheter deliver targeted pain medication, it also significantly reduces postoperative pain, eliminates the need for pain pills and their side effects and provides a better environment for rest and recovery.
  • A multi-model pain plan combines the options above with other over-the-counter pain relievers, therapy and a multifaceted approach to pain management that does not include any form of opioids."

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