La Crosse Ambulance Service Using Essential Oils Instead Of Opioids
An ambulance service in the La Crosse area is using aromatherapy as a way to cut down on pain medication use.Tri-State Ambulance is equipping paramedics with six different essential oils that can help treat pain, nausea or anxiety.
Dr. Chris Eberlein, medical director for Tri-State, said he noticed paramedics were often giving small doses of narcotics like fentanyl to patients who ended up not needing a prescription for pain medication.
“We started reviewing ‘Why are they giving narcotics?’ and really it came down to the fact that they didn’t have many other things they could do in the ambulance ride,” Eberlein said.
Narcotics, or opioids, have been shown to lead to addiction and other drug use. Eberlein said he wanted to find a way to treat patients without the medications.
Gundersen Health System, the parent company of Tri-State, has been using essential oils in the hospital setting for several years. Eberlein said the success with essential oils among patients in post-operative care was what inspired him to look at using the therapy in ambulances.
“We’re not going to not treat your pain. If you need a narcotic, you’re going to get it,” Eberlein said. “What we‘re looking at is for the patients that … they’ve got minor pain along with other complaints, that we can supplement their treatment with this.”
Essential oils are used to create a better environmentA few drops of essential oils are placed on a cotton ball, which is taped to the patient’s chest. Eberlein said the smell is not overwhelming, but it does create a better environment for healing. He said ambulances can often be unpleasant environments for patients.
“Before you get in, you get a nice whiff of diesel fume or exhaust in the back. And then you’re in this very sterile-like environment, bleachy smell, plastic smells,” Eberlein said.
Tri-State paramedics will also have access to liquid Tylenol as another alternative to opioids.
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Original post from: Wisconsin Public Radio, © Copyright 2018, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Educational Communications Board.