Washington hospital and doctor groups back Gov. Inslee's opioid crisis plan


Two associations representing Washington hospitals and doctors have endorsed Gov. Jay Inslee’s plan to tackle the state’s opioid overdose crisis.

Inslee’s Oct. 7 executive order directed state agencies to work with local public health organizations to treat and assist opioid addicts, cut down on inappropriate opioid prescribing and intervene in overdoses to prevent death.

Cassie Sauer will become CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association in January 2017.

About two people fatally overdose every day across Washington. The plan noted that heroin overdose deaths more than doubled from 2010 to 2015 and more than half of heroin users recently surveyed said they were hooked on prescription opiates before heroin.

"The U.S. is in the grips of an opioid epidemic, and people's lives are at stake," said Cassie Sauer, executive vice president of the Washington State Hospital Association. "The Washington State Hospital Association is dedicated to doing our part to prevent and decrease opioid addiction. We have a responsibility to help improve prescribing practices, support patients in pursuing other effective options for pain control, and allow for safe disposal of unused medications."

The Washington State Hospital Association represents 107 hospital and health system members, including nonprofit, investor-owned, and county, state and military hospitals.

"The governor's executive order provides a path forward that brings together state agencies, health provider organizations, law enforcement and other partners in a coordinated and unprecedented effort to combat the opioid crisis in this state," said Dr. Ray C. Hsiao, former president of the Washington State Medical Association and a child psychiatrist and addiction specialist at Seattle Children's Hospital.

The Washington State Medical Association represents 10,430 medical professionals in the state, including practicing and retired physicians, resident physicians, medical students and physician assistants.

The two associations earlier this year created the Joint Opioid Safe Practices Task Force to improve and implement safe prescribing practices, pain management and addressing opioid abuse prevention and addiction support.

"The breadth of the problem demands widespread attention,” Sauer said. “We are very appreciative that the governor is marshaling the state's agencies and resources to tackle this problem, and we look forward to working with the governor in being part of the solution."

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