Medical City Healthcare
September 05, 2019

Opioids reduced more than 21%, medication take back boxes offered at 12 hospitals

Medical City Healthcare’s efforts to “Crush the Crisis” in opioid use are paying off with a dramatic reduction in opioid prescriptions across the North Texas hospital system. Recognizing the nationwide crisis, Medical City Healthcare has employed a comprehensive, three-pronged, systemwide approach to reduce administration of opioids.

The first phase, focused on reducing opioid therapies in Medical City emergency departments, launched in November 2018. To date, it has resulted in an impressive 21% reduction in opioid use for pain relief in Medical City hospital emergency rooms. Physicians are using less addictive but effective alternatives, called ALTOSM therapies, including non-opioid patches, non-opioid pain medications, trigger point injections and other pain relief methods.

“This is an evolution in how we approach pain relief for patients,” says Miguel Benet, MD, Medical City Healthcare Chief Medical Officer. “These initiatives represent our commitment to patients not just while they are in our care, but also to their well-being after they leave the hospital.”

The second phase of the initiative aims to reduce opioid use in surgical recovery. In addition to the ALTO therapies, innovative and alternative techniques have been used to help relieve patients’ physical and emotional discomfort, leading to reductions in opioid use with the added benefits of decreased complications and lengths of stay.

In a pilot study, for example, 35% of patients who used virtual technology at Medical City Healthcare hospitals reported reduced pain, and more than 60% reported a reduction in anxiety. As part of this treatment, each patient receives a virtual reality headset, along with education and training on how to use it to manage pain while at the hospital. The headsets are free for patients to take home, empowering them to continue treatment after discharge. Virtual reality for pain relief has been used effectively in labor and delivery, oncology and post-surgical care.

The third phase of the comprehensive plan focuses on community education. Surplus and expired medications left at home are vulnerable to misuse, theft or abuse by family members and visitors, including children and teens. In 2017, more than 70,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, with almost 68% involving opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In response, Medical City Healthcare hospitals now offer drug take back boxes to enable North Texans to safely and anonymously remove prescription opioids and other medications from their homes. The drug take back boxes, which are compliant with Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulations, may be accessed, free of charge, any day of the year – not just on a specific drug take back day. The efforts align with a national “Crush the Crisis” opioid take back day on September 7 across HCA Healthcare, the parent organization of Medical City Healthcare.

Medical City Healthcare facilities offering medication take back boxes include:

Members of the community can drop off unused or expired prescription and over- the-counter medications. The boxes cannot accept needles, syringes, lancets, inhalers or liquids. Find specific locations for medication take back boxes at

HCA Healthcare is part of the National Academy of Medicine’s (NAM) Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic.