Finding Hope


North Canyon Medical Center offers opioid-free anesthesia for surgeries

Posted at 7:29 PM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 08:47:07-04

GOODING, Idaho — As coronavirus continues to dominate the headlines, an underlying issue remains across the country: the opioid crisis. Now, one Idaho hospital is changing its surgery protocols to help stop the opioid epidemic.

Gooding's North Canyon Medical Center will now offer opioid-free anesthesia during surgery. The practice is available for many of the facility's general surgeries, helping patients avoid opioids altogether.

"As anesthesia providers, we are the ones dictating the anesthesia plan; we're the ones giving the opioids, controlling their pain during surgery. So if we can eliminate their pain without having to give them any opioids at all, then we've done our part," says Paul Dickinson, Chief Anesthetist at North Canyon Medical Center.

The initiative of the opioid-free anesthetic is to help patients avoid becoming reliant on opioids. By eliminating the opioids and taking other measures to treat a patient's pain, there will be fewer side effects and a quicker recovery. The opioid-free anesthesia can also be cost-efficient for the person receiving care since there is quicker recovery time, meaning not as much money will be put into recovery efforts.

Post-operation rehabilitation is critical in reducing the chances of opioid-related side effects or possible addiction. To better assist with people's pain, North Canyon has driven its efforts towards helping patients with more elaborate and efficient care.

"Things like anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxants and giving those before surgery, during surgery, and then our surgeons are really good at having those given to you after surgery. So if we treat the cause of their pain instead of just treating the pain, it really reduces or completely eliminates the need for opioids in the first place," explains Dickinson.

The team-based approach includes surgeons, anesthesiologists, and physical therapists who all meet with the patient to discuss the overall plan for their surgery and recovery.

Although the hospital wants opioid-based anesthesia eventually eliminated, not everyone has that choice. Sometimes, patients who attend the facility are long-term narcotics users, and if they were to be off their narcotics, they could experience withdrawal or other side effects or symptoms.

Still, North Canyon hopes to lead by example and demonstrate to other facilities the great benefits opioid-free anesthesia has for their patient's care.