It is hard to believe that summer is over and fall has arrived. The time has flown by, in part, because of all the issues that MOCEP and the Board of Directors is working on.
The members of the MOCEP and its Board are some of the best leaders in this specialty and the medical profession, and this is shown by the groups that reach out to them for their input on important issues such as the opioid abuse epidemic. During the summer, Dr. Heidt and I were asked to meet with U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill’s staff to discuss this epidemic that effects the entire United States, but hits Missouri especially hard due to our lack of a statewide prescription drug monitoring program. During the meeting, Dr. Heidt shared his thoughts on this problem within Missouri, and also his ideas on how things could be improved. He also shared the importance of EM physicians being supported by their hospitals when they don’t prescribe narcotics without it impacting their patient satisfaction score.
We were then invited to attend the White House Rural Council’s Town Hall on the Opioid Epidemic in Missouri that was held in Columbia on July 22. The Town Hall was hosted by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, and U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill. During the event, they shared many statistics including between 1993 and 2013, there was a 400% increase in the number of opioids prescribed to patients. In addition, it was noted that nearly 10 million Americans are misusing these drugs and at least 2 million are addicted. This epidemic is costing the economy nearly $25 billion in economic loss because when workers get hooked on drugs they are less productive in the work place.
Secretary Vilsack and Senator McCaskill have suggestions on how to address these issues, including new opioid prescription regulations, asking medical associations to encourage physicians to change the way they prescribe, and to better understand when to prescribe, and increasing awareness to young people about not taking opioids.
It was a powerful meeting, and to have MOCEP “invited to the table” shows the dedication and expertise that this association has because of its members and leadership. Let’s keep the momentum moving forward!