Pain Management Initiative
The Berkshire Health Systems Community Pain Management Project is a collaborative effort of healthcare providers, substance abuse specialists and members of law enforcement and the court system, designed to address the twin goals of improving chronic pain management services and combating drug diversion and misuse in the Berkshires.
After implementation of the project in 2006, the effort quickly earned both state and national recognition for its pioneering work. Paul Cote, the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has called the initiative, "a leading edge program. What this effort is achieving is significant and laudable." Dr. Nathaniel Katz, a national authority on pain management and abuse and drug diversion issues said, "Berkshire Health Systems has taken a leadership role in addressing this problem with an initiative designed to decrease the illegal use of prescription drugs while improving medical care for those who need them. In my experience, this balanced and enlightened approach is unique.
Department of Public Health figures show that during 2005, pharmacies in Berkshire County filled prescriptions for 2.8 million doses of Schedule 2 opioid medications - drugs with significant risk of abuse and addiction, including morphine derivatives, Oxycodone and Percocet. That number is four times higher than the number of Schedule 2 doses dispensed a decade earlier. It also does not include the 11.2 million doses of Schedule 3 pain medications, such as Vicodin, that were prescribed in 2005.
- Publication of a tool-kit for all Berkshire County providers, offering state-of-the-art diagnostic information, non-pharmaceutical treatment alternatives and methods of identifying and responding to potential abusers or diverters of pain medication
- Expansion of local substance abuse programs to assure the availability of effective treatment response for individuals suffering from pain medication addiction and other substance abuse problems
- Coordinate efforts with the local courts and law enforcement and corrections agencies to better address the needs of those whose non-medical involvement with pain medications has led to addiction or addiction and dependency-related crime
- Immediate availability of critical patient care information for appropriate providers through the BHS electronic medical record system
- Collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Prescription Monitoring Program, to provide local healthcare providers with regular information about their own prescribing practices