Addressing Opioid Addiction: May 28, 2019
It was a shocking realization for doctors like cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Brian Hummel. “Opioid abuse and addiction are everywhere, and it’s ramped, and it is a disease. I just became alarmed. We went back and looked financially, and we had expended 14.8 million dollars in reimbursed care over the past 24 months for endocarditis patients,” said Dr. Brian Hummel, a cardiothoracic surgeon with Lee Health.
Endocarditis is an infection of the heart valves that often happens as a result of drug abuse. “We saw our numbers simply skyrocket with patients requiring our intervention in surgery. The unfortunate thing is about 30 percent of them were coming back very soon after discharge reinfected,” he said.
That’s when health experts decided it was time to work together to tackle the opioid epidemic. “We were able to create and outline a program going forward that we hope is going to reduce readmission and treat the patients the way they should be treated,” Dr. Hummel said.
The program helps to recognize and treat patients with opioid addiction by involving multiple care services throughout the hospital. “What we want to do is help them get off the opioids and help them transition to something that is stable,” he said.
Patients then stay in the hospital between six and eight weeks while receiving medically assisted therapy. A program that helps them get off opioids safely and ultimately transition back into society.