Struggling with Prescribing Opiates?

 In Nurses Weekly

In recent years, U.S. emergency departments have prescribed fewer opioids for pain patients. Yet some worry the pendulum might have swung too far, marginalizing and stigmatizing pain patients who legitimately benefit from the drugs. Health care providers’ biases, as well as pressures to find alternatives to opioids, could diminish quality of care if not kept in check.

ED nurses grapple with the opioid crisis daily. Determining who really needs opioids is especially important given state rules and regulations aimed at limiting the narcotics, or opioids, ED providers can prescribe, said Mike Hastings, MSN, RN, CEN, 2020 president of the Emergency Nurses Association.

It’s also no secret people who have abused opioids and try to feed their addictions via the ED.

To better understand which patients should and shouldn’t receive narcotic pain medications, ED nurses need to put aside judgments and biases. They should listen and treat each patient holistically, according to Hastings.

By conducting a full assessment and asking about potential injuries, type of employment, medical history, prior pain treatments and more, nurses better understand the root cause of what’s going on with the person and can treat the patient holistically. This is opposed to looking only at the patient’s chief complaint and labeling them as another overdose patient or addict.

The goal when treating pain patients in the ED is to…

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