The Greater Baltimore Medical Center has altered its protocols on colorectal surgeries. Today, patients are not required to fast prior to the surgery or remain on bed rest after the surgery. IV fluids are also no longer a requirement for these surgeries.
These common surgical protocols were at one time thought to be helpful, but now the medical community is having a change of heart. Enhanced protocols for some surgeries are now being utilized by both Johns Hopkins Hospital and Howard County General Hospital.
Doctors throughout the nation are facing pressure to prescribe fewer opioids, which is why the change in procedures is occurring. Opioid addiction is the driving force behind the nationwide heroin epidemic. Addicts are turning to more affordable and readily available street drugs.
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has instituted new rules for doctors prescribing opioids to Medicaid recipients. Doctors must consider alternative pain medication, better screen patients and start with low doses. The new rules also encourage doctors to refer more addicted patients to treatment.
New guidelines for treating lower back pain were announced this week by the American College of Physicians. Lower back pain is one of the most common reasons why people visit a doctor’s office. Spinal manipulation, therapies such as massage and acupuncture are recommended over opioids and other narcotic pain medications.
“Physicians should consider opioids as a last option for treatment and only in patients who have failed other therapies, as they are associated with substantial harms, including the risk of addiction or accidental overdose,” said Dr. Nitin S. Damle, the group’s president, in a statement announcing the guidelines.
The newest ways to treat pain is with enhanced recovery. Regenerative medicine is also being looked at more closely. Isolating platelets from blood and injecting it directly into joints is just one example. Researchers are injecting stem cells on specific parts of the body as a way to promote health.
Ibuprofen, Tylenol and nerve blocks are great effective pain management alternatives. Physicians are also encouraging their patients to stay physically active and try yoga, acupuncture and meditation. Of course, taking a pill is the easiest solution to relieving pain and many patients are willing to spend hours doing yoga and meditation. Some insurers don’t cover alternatives treatments such as treatments that are still in medical trials and acupuncture.