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Addressing the Opioid Crisis

In 2019, 100 HCA Healthcare facilities in 16 states hosted our “Crush the Crisis” opioid take-back event, a community service initiative supported by local law enforcement that collected 5,887 pounds of unused and expired medications.

More than 130 people die every day as the result of an opioid overdose in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. HCA Healthcare has many programs in place to help address the crisis.


Partnering with local law enforcement, we collected more than 5,887 pounds of unused and expired prescription medications.


Take back programs

We know that the safest and most responsible option to dispose of opioids is to take unwanted medications to a drug take-back site or event.

In July 2018, HCA Healthcare joined the National Academy of Medicine’s Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic and provided $500,000 to help address the crisis. Three months later, we organized and launched our first Crush the Crisis nationwide initiative, collecting more than 224 pounds of medication (equivalent to 100,000 doses). In 2019, we collected 5,887 pounds of medication (equivalent to approximately 4 million doses).

Opioid stewardship programs

At HCA Healthcare, we are using our scale and skill to combat the opioid crisis. Here are a few active initiatives:

  • We created a reporting dashboard to examine prescribing patterns across the organization using data collected from our network of more than 180 hospitals and launched Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances (EPCS) to allow providers to electronically transmit controlled substance prescriptions to a pharmacy.
  • We are installing a platform that seamlessly connects each state Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) to providers' electronic health records (EHR). The tool allows providers to quickly perform multi-state checks and monitor real-time controlled substance data directly from their patients' health records, saving time, improving care and preventing patient harm.
  • We have developed a new Alternative To Opioids (ALTO) program based on a trial in 2017 at Swedish Medical Center that resulted in a 36% decrease in patient opioid use. The ALTO program is now in all HCA Healthcare ERs.
  • At the beginning of 2018, we developed and implemented new strategies to manage pain for the 1.5 million patients who have surgery annually in an HCA Healthcare facility. Our Enhanced Surgical Recovery (ESR) initiative is an innovative surgical approach that uses evidence-based pre-, intra- and post-operative interventions to optimize patient outcomes and reduce the use of opioids after surgery. HCA Healthcare data from January 2018 through June 2019, collected from 47,400 major abdominal, joint, gynecologic oncology, spinal and bariatric ESR surgeries, revealed up to a 50.4% decrease in opioid use for these patients.

Learn more about HCA Healthcare's committment to Crush the Crisis.

Additional resources

Crushing the Opioid Crisis