Nurse seeks to reduce opioid use for pain management

American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
Keith Barnhill

Keith Barnhill, a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) at Regional Medical Center in Manchester, Iowa, has made it his goal to reduce opioid use for chronic spine pain management.

Barnhill recently partnered with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and other healthcare professionals to achieve this objective.

CRNAs specialize in acute and chronic pain management and often are the only health care professionals available in rural areas to provide nonsurgical pain management.

Barnhill covers six of the 10 Iowa Anesthesia LC rural pain management centers in northeast Iowa and offers pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments for spine pain.

CMS relies on eight regional Medicare Administrative Contractors. It recently held a three-hour-long webcast for contractors. Barnhill spoke about evidence-based practices for patients with chronic back pain caused by facet joint syndrome. Damaged facet joints are one of the leading causes of back pain.

“It was really important that I represent the (American Association of Nurse Anesthetists) and all the CRNAs doing nonsurgical pain management as well as my communities,” Barnhill said. “In my work, nearly 80 percent of my patients are Medicare or Medicaid members.”

In 2016, one-third of all Medicare recipients filled an opioid prescription, According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, including 500,000 prescriptions for high doses.