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Piedmont Healthcare Supports National Drug Take Back Day

Atlanta (April 17, 2019) – From 1999 to 2010, opioid-related deaths in Georgia increased by 500 percent. In 2016, there were close to 1,000 deaths involving opioids in the state and those numbers are continuing to increase. Facing those statistics and knowing that all healthcare systems need to play a role in attempting to stem this epidemic, Piedmont Healthcare is examining its pain management policies and connecting its hospitals with stakeholders in the community in an effort to address this crisis.


National Drug Take Back Day, which is sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), is Saturday, April 27, and will feature activities between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Local law enforcement agencies will provide a safe, convenient and responsible way to dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs.


“The impact of the opioid crisis is felt far and wide, devastating the lives of many individuals and families across our nation and close to home,” Piedmont Healthcare CEO Kevin Brown said. “Piedmont is taking a stand and taking the stigma out of substance abuse and addiction. Through these initiatives on Take Back Day, Piedmont’s goal is to make a positive difference in our communities in the fight against opioid addiction.”


From a system level, Piedmont, the largest healthcare provider in Georgia, convened an Opioids Task Force in 2018 and is seeking to provide patients with optimal pain management while preventing the potential for opioid abuse. One of the key tenets to Piedmont’s plan is to increase education and awareness among both patients and staff.


There are times when the use of opioids is appropriate and necessary, but Piedmont’s new protocols, created by its physician leaders in consultation with clinical staff, will consider non-opioids and alternate pain management modalities such as topical therapy, local injections, massage, physical therapy and more. Piedmont will also focus on establishing system-wide standardization and coordination of prescribing protocols in key risk areas.


To create awareness on this issue, Piedmont has created a website, Piedmont wants patients and the community to know that:


  • Opioids are highly addictive.
  • Many addicts started misusing medication after fairly normal events like a dental or surgical procedure.
  • Opioids are commonly found in homes – and with a variety of names – which means a person could have dangerous medications in their home and not know it.


In 2018, Take Back Day brought in more than 900,000 pounds of unused or expired prescription medication. Disposing of those drugs safely keeps them off the streets and protects the environment as well. On its website for Take Back Day, the DEA has a collection site locator that allows individuals to find the closest take back sites to where they live:


Throughout its 11 hospitals, Piedmont will be coordinating with various local law enforcement and public health agencies on Take Back Day. Piedmont hospitals also will be conducting employee forums to discuss opioids-related issues and the system’s approach to the issue.



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