Get involved, help prevent opioid misuse

May 4, 2023

The increasing rate of opioid-related deaths in Washington is a serious cause for concern. This is a complex problem requiring multi-faceted solutions in areas of prevention and treatment, and hospitals are a necessary stakeholder in driving those solutions forward. The removal of the X-Waiver, allowing for greater ease in prescribing medications for opioid use disorder, and the mandate in 2SSB 5195, requiring distribution of naloxone to patients at risk of an opioid overdose, both serve as ways hospitals can lead the way to save lives by promoting harm reduction strategies and increasing access to necessary medications.

In addition to these treatment strategies, WSHA members have been highly engaged in prevention activities. Prevention activities are diverse and can include any activity where the goal is to prevent substance misuse from occurring. This year, in the lead up to National Prevention Week, we are taking a moment to showcase prevention activities for hospitals and highlight ways you can get involved in this important work.

One prevention activity supported by Washington hospitals is the Starts With One campaign. This collaborative effort between WSHA, the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) and other key stakeholders included the development of a . The recently released provide examples of how providers can discuss safe, effective and equitable pain management and serve as clear examples of involving patients in decision-making.

Another area of prevention is quality improvement activities related to prescribing. This includes providing hospital CMOs with acute opioid prescribing feedback reports on a quarterly cadence and a collaborative effort to reduce acute opioid prescribing in our pediatric/adolescent and above-65-year age cohorts. It also includes education on alternatives to opioid prescribing (ALTO). Additionally, hospitals implemented permanent medication collection kiosks for the state Safe Medication Return program. This effort, across all regions of the state, has increased access to safe medication disposal at hospital sites from 22 locations in the first quarter of 2022 to more than 80 by the end of 2022

Preventing opioid-related harm is a significant safety and quality board-driven priority for Washington hospitals and there is no shortage of opportunities to get involved. We encourage you to learn more about what your hospital has already done to support prevention efforts and consider other ways you might move this work forward. Please join us for the webcast Hospitals and Opioid Misuse Prevention: Practical Strategies to Help Combat the Opioid Epidemic from 9-10:30 a.m. Friday, June 9, where we will discuss the strategies mentioned above in greater detail.


Tina Seery
WSHA Senior Director, Quality and Performance Improvement

Brittany Weiner
WSHA Assistant Director, Behavioral Health



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