Colorado Hospitals Achieve 36 Percent Reduction in Opioid Administration

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, COLO. – Jan. 25, 2018 – Today, the Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) released results of the Colorado Opioid Safety Pilot. Beginning in June 2017, CHA and its member hospitals conducted a six-month pilot in eight Colorado hospital emergency departments (EDs) and two freestanding emergency departments (FSEDs) with the goal of reducing the administration of opioids by ED clinicians. This initiative, one of the largest opioid research efforts in the United States, used treatment guidelines developed by the Colorado Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians (Colorado ACEP) that recommend the use of alternatives to opioids (ALTOs) as a first-line treatment for pain rather than opioids.

All participating members successfully implemented the pilot, which returned remarkable results. The EDs achieved a 36 percent reduction in opioid administrations when compared to the same time period in 2016, far surpassing the original pilot goal of a 15 percent reduction. This amounted to a projection of 35,000 fewer individual opioid administrations between the 2017 pilot and the 2016 baseline period. The changes in ED pain management behaviors were dramatic, and the usage of ALTOs increased to the point that they became more commonly administered than opioids for some diagnoses in the treatment of pain. The pilot facilities treated a combined total of 130,631 unique patients during the six-month pilot period. To view the full report, click here.

“We are absolutely thrilled by the results of this pilot” said Steven Summer, president and CEO, CHA. “These results suggest that the opioid crisis in Colorado could be significantly reduced by a widespread implementation of the ALTO treatment guidelines and that is something we know our member hospitals and health systems are very interested in pursuing.”

“The potential that opioid prescriptions carry for addiction and abuse made the need for these guidelines clear,” recalls Dr. Stader, MD, Colorado ACEP secretary, ED assistant medical director Swedish Medical Center “My colleagues and I are very excited by the pilot results. It appears that we are one step closer to solving the opioid crisis in Colorado.”

Colorado is leading the nation’s opioid epidemic and currently has the nation’s twelfth highest rate for misuse and abuse of prescription opioids. CHA is committed to improving the quality of care and the safety of patients in hospitals and health systems across the state.

CHA partners in this initiative include Colorado ACEP, the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention, Telligen and the Colorado Emergency Nurses Association. For more information and additional details about the results, visit

About the Colorado Hospital Association

The Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) is the leading voice of Colorado’s hospital and health system community. Representing more than 100 member hospitals and health systems throughout the state, CHA serves as a trusted, credible and reliable resource on health issues, hospital data and trends for its members, media, policymakers and the general public. Through CHA, Colorado’s hospitals and health systems work together in their shared commitment to improve health and health care in Colorado. Learn more at