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St. Vincent’s pilot program reduces opioid usage in joint replacement patients

Tuesday, March 6, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: DCMS
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Jacksonville, FL (March 6, 2018) ­– St. Vincent’s HealthCare, part of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and non-profit health system, is expanding a successful pilot program that dramatically reduced opioid use by joint replacement patients and actually improved their pain scores. The pilot was led by Dr. Gavan Duffy, renowned orthopedic surgeon and chief of orthopedics at St. Vincent’s Southside.

“Among the 275 joint replacement patients involved in the pilot, we reduced opioid usage by 76 percent while simultaneously lowering their pain scores,” said Dr. Duffy, who is also medical director of the        St. Vincent’s Orthopedic Center of Excellence at St. Vincent’s Southside. “Our team approach to care and the dedication of everyone on our staff played a significant role in helping us achieve these amazing results.”

The orthopedic pilot program was based, in part, on a pain management initiative from the Ascension Pain Management Team.

“Opioid dependency and resultant drug overdose is nothing short of a nationwide epidemic,” said Tom VanOsdol, president and CEO of St. Vincent’s. “A recent report from Florida’s medical examiner shows the number of opioid-related deaths grew by 35% from 2015 to 2016. In Jacksonville, first responders are caring for an average of one overdose call every two hours. As we deal with this public health crisis, it is crucial that we address pain management and work together to prevent opioid dependence in the first place.” 

St. Vincent’s has also reduced its use of the most potent injectable opioids by approximately 65% by providing educational tools focusing on use of non-opioid alternatives for various acute and chronic pain syndromes, as well as updating standard order sets used to expedite the ordering process for various surgical procedures to contain lower doses of opioids and allow the physician to increase the dose based on individual patient needs.

In addition, the health system partnered with the City of Jacksonville, Gateway Community Services and River Region Human Services to offer an opioid pilot program that identifies individuals as they overdose and engages them with recovery peer specialists to guide them through treatment and rehabilitation. The six-month program, now in its fourth month, began at St. Vincent’s Riverside and is being expanded to St. Vincent’s Southside and St. Vincent’s Clay County. To date, this program has achieved a 100% survival rate for the nearly 45 individuals involved.

To learn more about St. Vincent’s HealthCare, visit  


About St. Vincent’s HealthCare

In Jacksonville, Florida, Ascension’s St. Vincent’s HealthCare operates three hospitals in addition to dozens of healthcare facilities and employs more than 5,000 associates. Across the region, St. Vincent’s provided more than $73 million in community benefit and care of persons living in poverty in fiscal year 2017. Serving Jacksonville for over 130 years, Ascension is a faith-based healthcare organization committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable. Ascension is the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system, operating 2,500 sites of care – including 141 hospitals and more than 30 senior living facilities – in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Visit