DENVER (CBS4)– The opioid epidemic in Colorado is getting more attention from a group trying to combat the problem at the source.
The Colorado Hospital Association launched a pilot program to try to reduce the number of addictive painkillers given to patients.
Ten emergency rooms across Colorado took part in the program, including Boulder Community Hospital, Poudre Valley Hospital, Medical Center of the Rockies, Sky Ridge Medical Center and Swedish Medical Center.
The goal was to cut opioids by 15 percent but the study shows that hospitals did much better, cutting the painkillers by 36 percent on average.
Doctors did it by taking a new approach to managing pain. Instead of automatically prescribing painkillers like oxycodone, doctors used safer and less addictive alternatives like lidocaine. That is an anesthetic that dentists typically use.
The hospital association says the six month study was the first of its kind in the nation.