July 3 (UPI) -- As the United States wrestles with the problem of opioid addiction in the United States, many hospitals have adopted a practice that may curb the problem, a new study says.
Most hospital systems around the country use stewardship programs meant to prevent opioid misuse, according to research published Wednesday in American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy.
"Hospital and health-system pharmacists play a major role as patient care providers on the interprofessional team in managing medication therapy, educating patients and other providers, and helping to solve public health issues like the opioid crisis and drug shortages," Michael Ganio, director of Pharmacy Practice and Quality at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and study author, said in a news release.
The research is a result of the National Survey of Pharmacy Practice in Hospital Settings, which included data culled from pharmacy directors surveyed at 811 children's and general hospitals around the United States.
The researchers found more than 71 percent of large hospital systems around the United States provide education to clinicians about opioids. About 65 percent use databases to monitor unusual prescribing practices and patient behavior consistent abuse. And more than 55 percent employ opioid diversion protection programs to discourage abuse.
Over 60 percent of hospitals have pharmacists deliver therapy management services to patients, researchers report. More than 75 percent of patients received those services in 2018, representing a 55 percent increase from 2000.
Hospitals also enlist pharmacists to monitor all medication therapy, a practice used by roughly a third of facilities, and 47 percent of hospital pharmacists track patients using electronic health records or clinical surveillance software.
"Pharmacists possess unique knowledge, skills, and abilities that make them critical team members to help ensure that medication use is optimal, safe, and effective. That is why hospitals and health systems rely on them to take a leading role in addressing the opioid crisis and many other medication-related areas," Ganio said.