MADISON, Wis. - In the last three years, SSM St. Mary's Hospital has decreased opioid use for post cesarean section moms by 76%.
Emelle Holmes-Drammeh, a physician assistant in the obstetrics and gynecology department, decided to look into how the department was contributing to the opioid epidemic. She discovered that in six months during 2017, 4,000 doses of narcotics were administered.
In those same six months this year, only 1,000 were given.
This is thanks to Holmes-Drammeh's work to change the protocol.
"Years ago we just prescribed everybody, we had a standard number. Everybody went home with this many. And now when we go to our patients and say 'Hey, you haven't taken any narcotics while you were here, maybe one dose in four days. Do you want some at discharge?' And most of the moms are like 'No, I didn't like it,'" said Holmes-Drammeh.
She said before on average patients would be given 40 tablets of Vicodin or Percocet, but now most moms are going home using only Tylenol and Ibuprofen. If they request pain meds, they are prescribed five at the most.
Shelley Fredrick, who gave birth to her fourth child via C-section on Friday, is heading home Monday without opioids. After a bad experience with her first child, she didn't want to take narcotics this time.
"After my C-section with my oldest, I was on morphine so I don't remember seeing him for at least a day and a half after he was born. So I missed out on the skin to skin, the bonding. I ended up getting postpartum depression afterwards," said Fredrick.
She said she relates that lack of bonding and postpartum depression back to the morphine use.
When the nurse in Dodgeville handed her the morphine, she didn't question it.
"I was just like 'Oh, ok. This is what we do.' So I just thought that that was normal," said Fredrick.
Now she knows it didn't have to be that way. She is glad nurses at St. Mary's included her in the conversation about paid meds.