West Virginia is known for is high rate of opiate death and addiction. While there are many facets to fighting that, but one local hospital says a new product helps keep them from prescribing narcotics in the first place.
Orthopedic surgeries can mean a lot of pain, but Mon General Hospital offers a device that delivers pain-killers directly to the source of the pain with fewer side effects.
"The On Q system is basically just a rubber ball that squeezes medicine through a tube to allow us to keep giving numbing medicine to patients for a period of days so that we can use medicine that has very little side effects, like what you'd get at the dentist, instead of using narcotics and all of the other things that make people sleepy, not breathe as good and feel sick," explained anesthesiologist Dr. John Morris.
Hospital officials said the device has decreased hospital stays, because people are able to start rehabilitation on the affected areas much sooner.
Carl Wassick had a total knee replacement with the On-Q system and a total hip replacement without it.
His hospital stay was the same for each procedure but there was one big difference.
"The pain was different," Wassick said. "When I had it with my knee, I wasn't reluctant to do what I was asked to do. The hip… I felt I'll make my own call if I'm going to do what they ask me to do as far as the mobility of it."
The On-Q wasn't available for the hip procedure, but it is becoming an option with more surgeries at Mon General.
"We started with our total knees, then went to our total hips and total shoulders," said surgeon Dr. Matthew Darmelio. "We had such great success with it that we then went to using it for our sports surgeries such as ACL reconstructions and rotator cuff repairs."
That means fewer patients are exposed to narcotics to manage the pain in the most crucial 48 hours following the surgery.
"We're able to minimize the amount we expose them to, reducing the chance that they'll get set up with a chronic pain problem. We like to think we're reducing the chances of someone getting hooked on these drugs."
As for Wassick, he recommends anyone in need of a surgery ask about the device.
"Any more orthopedic surgeries, there will always be that question… Is On Q available for that?"