As a healthcare provider, Mercy Urgent Care is committed to addressing the opioid crisis by taking proactive steps in the region they serve. Mercy Urgent Care has responded to national, state and local calls for all healthcare providers to assist in addressing the problem and in eliminating the epidemic.
Patients visiting Mercy Urgent Care who are experiencing pain or who are seeking treatment for pain will find that their pain management approach has changed and most patients are not being prescribed or receiving opioids from Mercy Urgent Care.
Opioids such as Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Morphine and Dilaudid are designed to reduce the intensity of pain signals to the brain. However, they can have very serious risks including addiction, over-sedation, and even death. Addiction has become a serious problem in the United States. Nationally, and in our state, there is an opioid epidemic.
Mercy Urgent Care is:
1. Providing continuing education about safe pain management for prescribers in our organization
2. Avoiding the use of narcotics as a first line treatment of pain, in most cases
3. Using and prescribing more non-opioid treatments:
· Non-opioid oral medication (acetaminophen, anti-inflammatories, and muscle relaxers)
· Use of topical medications such as anti-inflammatory creams and lidocaine patches
· Positioning, splinting and protecting injured limbs and joints
· Exercises or stretches that help reduce the discomfort from musculoskeletal injuries
· Hot or cold applications
4. Referring patients for specialized treatments such as physical therapy, massage, and chiropractic care
5. Educating patients on the risks of opioids and the benefits of other pain management strategies
In cases where there is severe pain with concern or risk of complications, or a life-threatening condition, Mercy Urgent Care providers will refer patients to the Emergency Room.
In rare cases for which an opioid is necessary, Mercy Urgent Care providers follow the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and the North Carolina Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention (STOP) Act.
1. Checking the controlled substance registry prior to making a decision about writing a prescription for any controlled substance.
2. Educating patients on safe administration and storage of controlled substances.
3. Limiting prescriptions to 3 days or less.
4. Prescribing the least amount possible.
Mercy Urgent Care providers will honor pain contracts, and therefore will not prescribe controlled substances to those in pain management or those with chronic pain. They will provide information on appropriate providers and resources in the community.
~Information shared by Mercy Urgent Care Medical Director Elizabeth McCarty, MD