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To combat addiction, several Colorado hospitals tried a new approach to treating pain. Their use of opioids plummeted.


​LONE TREE — Colorado hospitals that were part of a groundbreaking pilot project were able to dramatically reduce the amount of opioids they administered by simply focusing on alternative, safer pain treatments, according to a new study released Thursday.
 
When the Colorado Hospital Association launched the project last summer, it set a goal of reducing opioid administration in emergency departments by 15 percent. Instead, the eight hospitals and two freestanding emergency rooms that were part of the project reduced opioid administration by 36 percent.
 
Every facility in the project reduced opioid use by at least 30 percent. Two facilities came close to reducing their opioid administration by half. And for two monitored conditions — kidney stones and back pain — the facilities flipped from treating them mostly with opioids to using alternatives.