Excerpted from a SHRM Blog by Gene Hobbs

Many of us have read through FMLA paperwork describing things we can do to assist our employees with acute or chronic pain. These instructions may ask us to pad the floor by their desks or give extended breaks to allow employees to rest their impacted area(s) of pain.

One area that we often neglect is a discussion of how the pain is being managed. Is this employee taking powerful drugs that may sedate them? Are these drugs addictive? What could happen if our employee takes too much? Do you have customers that may be taking opioids for pain?

There has been a four-fold increase in deaths over the last decade from opioid overdose (v et al., 2018). Recent work has noted that over forty-eight million Americans suffer from severe and chronic pain (Chidgey and Murphy, 2017). Chidgey and Murphy noted that “the number of opioids prescribed for the treatment of both acute and chronic pain has quadrupled” since 1999 (2017). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has shown a at least a 25 percent annual increase in overdose fatalities on the job since 2012 (BLS, 2017).

The national opioid epidemic is clearly on our doorsteps but what can we do to help our teams?

Our employees can benefit from bystander education. It is associated with better overdose recognition and overdose response by the administration of the life-saving several drug Naloxone (Giglio et al., 2015).

For the second annual Healthcare Simulation Awareness Week, let’s discuss simulation techniques and tools to improve team safety and communication. Below is an example of how every office can use a simple simulation to help prepare team members for an opioid crisis in their office.

Arrange a meeting and have one or two team members act “different”. Be a few minutes late to the meeting yourself to give the team plenty of time interact and recognize that something is “not quite right” with their colleague(s). Your actors can act drowsy, mentally confused, euphoric, or pick other behaviors often associated with opioid overdose (SAMHSA, 2015).

You can read the full post here.