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UCHealth Launches Educational Campaign Offering Options Beyond Opioids

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)- The opioid epidemic has doctors and patients rethinking painkillers. At UCHealth, there is a concerted effort to educate people about opioids. Patients are part of the conversation when it comes to managing pain.

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CBS4's Kathy Walsh interviews Carlo Lopez Vera. (credit: CBS)

"I think I have pain all the way to 10, maybe even more," Carlo Lopez-Vera told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

That was the agony the 43-year-old felt on May 13 when the car he was working on fell on top of him.

"My whole cage was supporting the weight of the car," Carlo explained.

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(credit: Carlo Lopez Vera)

The husband and father suffered 16 broken ribs, a broken sternum and 3rd degree burns on his chest and stomach. He was rushed to UCHealth Burn and Frostbite Center.

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(credit: CBS)

"We counsel the patients the minute they come in the door that you will get some narcotics to help control your pain, but as you heal that will go away," said Dr. Anne Wagner, Medical Director of the Center.

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Dr. Anne Wagner shakes Carlo's hand. (credit: CBS)

That's how Carlo was treated, at first. Then, for 10 days, he got an intravenous drip of lidocaine, a numbing medication.

"Lidocaine works excellent on damaged nerves," said Wagner.

"Whenever I have some pain, they help me out one way or another," said Carlo.

For Carlo, sneezing and coughing can be excruciating. But rather than call for medication, he waits for the pain to pass.

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(credit: CBS)

"We do everything and anything we can to avoid the narcotic," said Wagner.

There is a campaign all over UCHealth that is visible on walls, doorways and elevators. It calls for healthy conversations about options beyond opioids. It guides patients on how to ask questions if their doctor is considering prescribing an opioid.

"We don't want to become part of the problem," said Wagner.

Carlo will take help, if needed, to manage the pain of upcoming skin graft surgery. But he's ready to heal and anxious to head home.

LINK: UCHealth Opioid Aware

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