FRUITA, Colo. - While drug related deaths are down this year, opioid abuse is still a big problem in Colorado. The state has the 12th highest rate of abuse and misuse in the country.
To help tackle the opioid epidemic, as of January 1st Colorado Canyons Hospital and Medical Center joined the Colorado ALTO Project. It's a statewide initiative that allows Colorado emergency departments to treat pain without exposing patients to risks associated with highly addictive medications. Instead they plan to offer patients ALTOs, also known as alternative medications.
Those alternative medications will be offered to treat patients entering their emergency department experiencing back pain, migraines, headaches, abdominal pain, and fractures, among other conditions.
The hospital says they're not changing to be opioid free, but instead they're aiming to reduce the rate of opioid administration. They also say although they're a small hospital, they plan to make a large impact in the opioid epidemic.
"We hope to reduce the amount of opioids that we start, and hopefully reduce dependents on opioids in the future, but more importantly I hope that we're actually treating pain better," said Dr. Korrey Klein, Chief Medical Officer at Colorado Canyons Hospital and Medical Center.
During a six month opioid safety test in 10 emergency departments across Colorado, the participating facilities reduced the administration of opioids by an average of 36% and increased the usage of ALTOs by 31%.