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Northwest Hospitals Battle Prescription Pain Overdoses

Chris Lehman


SALEM, Ore. – More people are dying from overdoses of prescription painkillers. Some Northwest hospitals say they're combating the problem by drastically reducing the amount of prescriptions they write for the medications. Salem Hospital is the latest.

Experts say many users become addicted after initially taking painkillers for legitimate medical reasons. That's what happened to Matt Harp. He hurt his back playing college baseball. His doctor realized Harp was becoming addicted, but the Oregon man told a Salem news conference he simply visited different doctors and hospitals.

"Some of the things I did to get my medication was I falsified pain. I came in very well dressed. And I was very specific on what type of narcotics I was looking for."

Harp went through detox and beat his addiction. But the Centers for Disease Control says nearly 15,000 people die each year in the U.S. due to overdosing on prescription painkillers.

Now, Salem Hospital says it's cracking down by cross-checking patients against a state prescription drug database. The aim is to prevent people from getting multiple prescriptions.

The new protocols are modeled after a similar system at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle.

On the Web:

Prescription Painkiller Overdoses in the U.S.:

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network