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Georgia responds to opioid crisis

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Janet Christenbury

Anne Schuchat, MD, former acting director of CDC and Dr. Matthew Keadey, associate professor of emergency medicine at Emory, discuss the opioid epidemic and how federal decisions might flow down to hospitals like Emory's.

On March 19, 2018, Anne Schuchat, MD, former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Matthew Keadey, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine at Emory, spoke with reporters about the opioid crisis and how Georgia is responding. The media event at Emory University Hospital came on the heels of an announcement by President Trump highlighting ways to put a stop to the epidemic. One goal is to reduce opioid prescribing by 30 percent over three years. Another goal is to ensure all federal prescribers use best practices for pain management within five years.

In Georgia, the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) is helpful to Georgia providers in tracking patient prescriptions. But often, state-supported monitoring programs have trouble communicating with monitoring programs in other states. Enhancing these systems is critical, so that in any state, providers have access to review all patient prescriptions.

Keadey says overdoses and consequences of opioid overuse are seen too often in the emergency department. Better monitoring of prescribing patterns and improving communication between states would be a move in the right direction to save more lives.

“Most importantly, we need to use best practices and make sure that when we talk about prescribing patterns at Emory, we’re all speaking the same language, specifically for opioid use,” says Keadey. “I think that’s the biggest impact we can make.”

On January 1, 2018, a new law went into effect stating every prescriber in Georgia with a DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) registration number must enroll as a PDMP user. The law also requires reviewing the PDMP information on a patient when a controlled substance is prescribed by a provider.

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