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ER Safe Opioid Prescribing Practices

The emergency room providers at El Camino Health follow safe opioid prescribing practices for patients with chronic pain.

Safe Opioid Prescribing Practices

El Camino Health will always put your safety first. We’re committed to your health and the health of our community. That’s why we’ve developed the following opioid prescribing practices.

What is an Opioid

Opioids, sometimes called narcotics, is a broad term, and we use it to include any medication with the potential for dependence, including sedatives.

Our Emergency Provider Prescribing Practices

For your safety, only one healthcare provider should prescribe opioid medication for your chronic pain. The El Camino Health emergency room will not:

  • Prescribe additional opioid pain medicine within a certain timeframe for the same condition if you’ve already been treated — either by one of our emergency room providers or by another provider somewhere else.
  • Inject you with pain medication for chronic pain.
  • Prescribe long-acting opioids such as Oxycontin, extended-release morphine or methadone.
  • Replace lost or stolen prescriptions for controlled substances.
  • Fill a prescription for you if you have run out of pain medication. Please arrange refills with your primary or specialty prescribing provider.

Why We Follow Safe Opioid Prescribing Practices

Did you know opioids can make your chronic pain worse? They can mask your underlying condition while exacerbating it. Opioids are also addictive. The more you take them to manage pain, the more dependent you grow on them. Not only do our emergency room providers want to help you safely manage chronic pain, we also want to keep you from falling into an addictive lifestyle.

When you visit our emergency room, we will make every attempt to relieve your suffering in a safe, empathetic way. It’s why we address acute pain (pain that occurs suddenly and goes away as you heal) with opioid alternatives.

Chronic (long-lasting, ongoing) pain, on the other hand, is treated differently. We believe chronic pain is best managed with maximum consistency. Why? Because inconsistency can increase long-term pain. To reduce opioid-related problems such as overdose, dependence or death, a single provider should prescribe narcotic drugs. Your primary care doctor or a specialist would be your ideal pain management partner.

Our emergency room providers cannot fill that role. We do not manage chronic pain with narcotics in patients with frequent visits to our facility. We also do not prescribe dangerous or addictive medications on a recurrent basis.

If you suffer from pain as well as medication dependence, we will always act on your behalf to protect your health. We are here for you 24/7 to evaluate and treat you should you suffer a medical emergency. No matter your situation, you are always welcome here.

Local Resources

We understand chronic pain is difficult, and sometimes the use of an opioid to manage it can get out of hand. If you believe you need help with a substance use problem, reach out to one of these local resources:


El Camino Health's Addiction Services
Mountain View | 650-988-8468
Kaiser Permanente (Kaiser Permanente Members Only)
San Jose |  408-972-3366
Santa Clara |  408-366-4200
Mills-Peninsula Addiction Treatment
San Mateo | 650-969-4666
Santa Clara County Substance Abuse Services
Santa Clara | 1-800-488-9919
VA Palo Alto (Veterans Only)
Palo Alto | 650-493-5000 Ext. 11-60050

Support Groups

LifeRing, Narcotics Anonymous and Refuge Recovery have regular support group meetings at the Mountain View Hospital.

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