The effort to curb opioid use got a boost recently, as Dell Medical School at UT Austin and Seton Healthcare Family announced that a new, two-step protocol for pain medication for new mothers has decreased opioid use for postpartum pain by more than 40 percent. The changes have been used across all Seton hospitals since February 2017.
In the first step of the protocol, patients are asked whether they can achieve a therapeutic activity goal, such as going to the bathroom without pain. In contrast, the traditional method asked patients to point to a chart to reflect level of pain. In the second step, patients start with a combination of acetaminophen and ibuprofen to manage pain, receiving additional medicines as needed.
“The number one cause of accidental maternal mortality within one year of delivery in Texas is drug overdose, and the majority of those deaths involve prescription opiates,” says Amy Young, MD, chair of the Department of Women’s Health at Dell Med and head of Women’s Health at Seton, part of Ascension. “We have a specific duty to address this problem so moms can be healthy at a time in their lives when they arguably need to be their healthiest.”