MINNEAPOLIS (KARE 11) – A new effort in the fight against opiate addiction is underway in Minnesota.
On Friday, a group of experts that included members of the health care community and the police presented new guidelines for prescribing opiates.
"In 2016, doctors wrote 47 prescriptions of opioids for every 100 minnesotans," said the Commissioner of the Department of Human Services. Emily Piper said.
Last year, 376 Minnesotans died from an overdose of opiates. That's an increase of 12 percent from the previous year.
"This is a crisis that affects people in every corner of our state, from all walks of life," said Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith.
The new guidelines reflect three broad values:
1, prescribe the lowest effective dose and duration of opioids when used for acute pain.
2, closely monitor the patient during the period of post-acute pain.
3, avoid starting the chronic opioid and careful treatment of any patient who remains under opioid medication.
Dr. Chris Johnson of Allina Health said that, for too long, the Minnesota health care community has not addressed pain management comprehensively.
"Chronic pain is a very complex emotional experience that comes from the whole context of the patient's life," he said.
Others added that this is just the beginning of how the state will fight the crisis.
Minnesota is the fifth lowest state in the nation when it comes to prescribing opiates.