All of us have seen the billboards along I-15 and the frequent news stories about the opioid epidemic around the country and specifically here in Utah. As an anesthesiologist at Brigham City Community Hospital, I am on the front lines of that war.
I recently read an article on KSL on May 30th about Dixie Regional Medical Center that has shifted post-surgical pain management from opioids towards more regional anesthesia techniques. This St. George hospital has created a regional pain service and acute pain service team that provides post-operative pain and regional blocks to "more than 33 percent of the hospitals cases." I very much applaud and agree with this approach.
At Brigham City Community Hospital, we have been utilizing these techniques for years. Using ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia, we have been able to create an environment for the best possible recovery and experience with the most current technologies available.
Our pain services are utilized by all specialty lines at the hospital. Our hip replacements, knee replacements, and shoulder replacements all receive ultrasound-guided nerve blocks for post-operative pain control-some with pain catheters lasting up to three days of pain relief. Our abdominal surgeries, including gall bladders, appendix, bowel surgeries, and hernia repairs all receive post-operative pain blocks using ultrasound before going to the recovery room. One of our general surgeons, Dr. Bryce, has commented recently, "I used to get phone calls about pain on about one third of my patients. Since utilizing this service, I have not had one phone call for pain control in the middle of the night."
For our obstetric patients, our C-section patients receive post-operative abdominal ultrasound blocks to minimize post-operative pain and improve recovery while also decreasing opioid use. These techniques are very safe and effective, and we have a very proficient anesthesia team that looks at opportunities to improve outcomes and experience while at our hospital.
There are many advantages to using regional anesthesia techniques and minimizing opioid use including: reduction of addiction potential with narcotics, minimizing constipation, avoiding the side effects of opioids, and creating an environment for a more rapid and comfortable recovery.
As an anesthesia team, we are lucky to have such strong hospital administration support in creating outcomes that are best for our surgical patients. We look forward to continuing this service and continuing to create an environment for a great recovery!
My goal in writing this article is to bring awareness that, at Brigham City Community Hospital, we are progressive in our approach to patient care and experience. We do procedures to minimize pain and opioid use that few other hospitals in the state are doing. Bigger is not better!
Joel D. Gardner, D.O.
Board Certified Anesthesiologist