Jax ERs Team Up Against Pain Pill Use

Hospitals To Follow Voluntary Rules To Address Drug Problem

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Northeast Florida's emergency rooms are coming together to strike back against the rampant abuse of pain pills, now regarded as the nation's fastest growing drug problem.

Hospital officials say that many people go to emergency rooms not just expecting to get help, but also seeking drugs.

To fight that, area hospitals have come together with a group of guidelines that addresses the issue.

The rules include having one doctor prescribe a patient's pain medications, using non-narcotic medications and sharing medical information among hospitals and pharmacies.

If emergency room doctors do prescribe drugs, they must make sure patients have an ID.

ER doctors on hand at a news conference at the University of North Florida on Wednesday said they will treat all patients, but will look at how drugs are dispensed.

"That medical care, most of the time, does not need narcotics," said Capt. Lynn Welling, of Naval Hospital Jacksonville. "If it does, we will use them. If it does not, we will use the alternate methods and refer the patient back to a primary care physician or a pain specialist. Again, completely in compliance with the law."

The rules are voluntary, but the main hospitals in Jacksonville have agreed to them. They are working to get the urgent clinics and dentists to join in as well.