Swedish Medical Center takes action against the nationwide opioid crisis

In June 2017, the Colorado Hospital Association launched an opioid safety pilot program that included 10 pilot emergency department sites. The initiative was one of the largest statewide opioid quality improvement projects in the nation with the goal to reduce the amount of opioids prescribed in the ED.

Swedish Medical Center’s Don Stader, MD along with Swedish pharmacist Rachael Duncan, developed and tested the opioid treatment guidelines that the piloting hospitals have been using to target specific types of pain. The guidelines recommend the use of alternatives to opioids (ALTOs), which are alternatives to opioids, with the goal of reducing the administration of opioids by emergency department personnel.

The pilot results were released in early 2018. The study indicated a 36 percent decrease in administered opioids in the pilot emergency departments compared to the same six-month period in 2016. That amounted to 35,000 fewer opioid administrations.

What are opioids?

Opioids are a class of drug that include the illegal drug heroin synthetic opioids (i.e. fentanyl) and pain relievers that can be legally attained through a prescription, including oxycodone, codeine, morphine, hydrocodone and others.

Why are we seeing an opioid epidemic?

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, more than 90 Americans die every day after overdosing on opioids. In fact, drug overdose deaths are currently the #1 cause of injury death in America. Opioid abuse and addiction – stemming from illegal drug use or misuse of prescription pharmaceuticals – has become a serious public health issue as well as a crisis affecting social and economic welfare.

“We’re going out and educating the rest of Colorado and the rest of the nation on how we can address this opioid epidemic. - Don Stader, MD”

Swedish has gained national attention as a leader in this important initiative, as Colorado is at the center of the U.S. opioid epidemic with the 12th highest rate of misuse and abuse of prescription opioids.

Watch the video coverage below to see how Swedish Medical Center is taking the lead in making a dent in the US opioid crisis:

ER Pharmacist at Swedish Medical Center Talks About Opioid Safety

ER Pharmacist at Swedish Medical Center Talks About Opioid Safety

Media Coverage


FOX News – Opioid crisis: Colorado hospitals join forces to stem drug abuse NPR – These 10 ERs Sharply Reduced Opioid Use And Still Eased Pain Modern Healthcare – Colorado ERs work together to lower opioid prescribing by 36%