IT’S CALLED THE OPIOD CRISIS AND IT’S OFTEN A MAJOR STORY in the nightly news. In 2017, deaths from drug overdoses totaled 70,237, of which 68% (47,600) were opioid overdose deaths, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Across the nation, government health officials and healthcare providers struggle to address the problems of opioid addiction. Opioid abuse strikes wealthy and poor alike and can be found in nearly every city and town in this country. As a trend, opioid abuse has momentum and the trend is reinforced by the illegal manufacture and distribution of fentanyl—a synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine, but 100 times more potent.
This crisis, and the toll it takes on the families of opioid abusers and the communities in which they live, represents an unusual opportunity for pathologists, clinical chemists, medical technologists, and other medical laboratory professionals. Clinical labs have the knowledge, expertise, and capabilities to help health networks, physicians, and payers manage patients on chronic opioid therapy (COT).
THE DARK REPORT presents the story of how Community Health Network (CHN) of Indianapolis launched a program to improve the care and management of COT patients. You’ll learn why laboratory test results provide one of the few sources of objective information about patient compliance or non-compliance. In fact, with urine drug testing included in CHN’s care protocols, physicians were able to reduce the rate of patients with inconsistent toxicology test results from nearly 60% to just 20%.
You’ll read about how AIT Laboratories, of Denton, Texas, works with CHN to provide its physicians with toxicology testing services in support of the CHN opioid management program. Those services include analytical reports that help physicians track their COT patients and monitor how effective they are in following the program’s protocols.
The success of Community Health Network’s opioid management program demonstrates that appropriate use of toxicology testing can make a major difference in helping COT patients. Pathologists and clinical lab managers can take this knowledge and use it to help the hospitals and physicians they serve to achieve better patient outcomes for COT patients.