By Lucas High
GREELEY — Banner Health’s three Northern Colorado hospitals are among those joining a program aimed at reducing the number of opioid painkiller doled out to emergency-room patients. A total of five Banner hospitals — including Banner Fort Collins Medical Center, McKee Medical Center in Loveland and North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley — are set to implement Colorado’s Alternative to Opioid project. Banner facilities in Sterling and Brush will also participate. The project implements components from the 2017 Opioid Prescribing & Treatment Guidelines developed by the Colorado chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, according to a Banner news release. These guidelines include using alternatives to opioids as a first line of defense in treating patients with painful conditions before resorting to opioids. “Currently, physicians use their best judgment and in a strong majority of the situations, they prescribe alternatives to opioids,” Dr. Angela Mills, chief medical officer at North Colorado Medical Center, said in a written statement. “However, they also want the patient to be comfortable. When someone says he has pain at a level 9 on a scale of 10, this can be challenging.” Centura Health, which operates Longmont United Hospital and Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville, implemented the ALTO program in all 17 of the health system’s emergency rooms and urgent-care centers in December.
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