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The Opioid Crisis: Hospital Prevention and Response

Often referred to as the opioid “epidemic” or “crisis,” the surge in opioid-related morbidity and mortality over the past several years has become a pressing public health issue in communities across the country.

At the center of this issue is the health care system, which is uniquely positioned as a contributor and solution to increased opioid use in America. Hospitals might be the first place people use opioids if painkillers are prescribed following a procedure or injury. Conversely, hospitals are a main care
provider for people experiencing opioid-related health problems once they engage in substance misuse.

Essential hospitals play a key part in the health care industry’s response to the opioid crisis. Although this problem reaches people of all demographics, the disadvantaged populations treated by essential
hospitals often have limited resources and complex social needs—substantial risk factors for substance use disorders.

This brief summarizes background on the opioid crisis and how hospitals can combat the opioid crisis by forming multisector partnerships; assessing and refining opioid prescribing practices; screening for and monitoring opioid use among patients; engaging transitional treatment, and supporting overdose rescue efforts.

Research Brief — The Opioid Crisis: Hospital Prevention and Response

KEY FINDINGS

  • A surge in opioid-related morbidity and mortality over the past several years has become a pressing public health issue in communities across the country.
  • The health care system is uniquely positioned as a contributor and solution to increased opioid use in the United States.
  • There have been dramatic increases in opioid-related emergency department visits and inpatient stays, placing a significant burden on hospitals.
  • Hospitals can combat the opioid crisis by forming multisector partnerships; assessing and refining opioid prescribing practices; screening for and monitoring opioid use among patients; engaging transitional treatment, and supporting overdose rescue efforts.

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