A team of physicians at Reston-based Virginia Spine Institute, led by spine surgeon and President Christopher Good, MD, conducted research on the number of prescription opioids ending up on the street, according to an Oct. 28 report from DC News Now.
According to the CDC, opioid deaths increased by 24,000 from 2020 to 2021. Of those deaths, 13,503 were from prescription opioids.
Dr. Good and his team piloted research that found medical teams could use new anesthesia techniques and non-narcotic medicine to decrease the number of patients being prescribed opioids.
The new protocol is called Enhanced Recovery After Surgery. With ERAS, patients get out of the hospital an average of eight hours earlier than they do with narcotics, according to Dr. Good's team.
"We actually rolled that out to hundreds of hospitals across the country, over 50,000 patients in the last study we did and what we found out is if hospitals use these protocols across the board, patients are less likely to go back to the hospital," Dr. Good told News Now. "Because we're doing that, patients need less narcotic medication, and we're actually finding they get out of the hospital sooner, they have lower chances of going back to the hospital, and if you follow people for three months after surgery, they actually have better pain control."