TAMPA, Fla. — Next week is National Patient Safety week, and Tampa General Hospital is using this as an opportunity to teach the public about an epidemic that is plaguing the country.

“Us as physicians in the hospital have a direct impact on people’s lives. Not just for, like, one portion of time when they’re in the hospital, but for extended years and on,” said Dr. Suvikram Puri, anesthesiologist at TGH.

Which is why doctors at Tampa General are making an effort to steer away from opioids, instead, turning to newer methods.

“We’re finding the nerves that come out of your spinal cord and going to the location of where you’re having the operation. So we’re using an ultrasound to find those nerves, we’re putting numbing medication onto those nerves, so less nerve signals are present and less nerve signals go back to your brain, hence you have less pain,” said Puri.

It’s called a nerve block, and was brought to the hospital when Puri began working here four years ago.

Before that, the options for pain management were limited all across the industry.

“Back in the day, we were prescribing 80-120 pills of narcotics. The patient went home with huge amounts of narcotics,” said Eugenio Oliverios, a nurse practitioner at TGH.

Some argue that is what’s fed the opioid epidemic in our country today.

But now, Tampa General is helping to pave the way for a new industry standard.

“Would you say in your experience you’ve seen more people opt away from opiates knowing they have this other option?” Oliveros was asked.

“Absolutely. They come here and ask for the option,” said Oliveros.

And this is just one of several options staff at TGH give their patients.

Puri says choosing which way to go all comes down to asking questions and doing your research.

“You always want to be educated on anything you do in life. In particular, if you’re going to the hospital, you want to be educated on what is best for you and your health,” said Puri.

If you would like to learn more about how Tampa General is working to combat the opioid crisis, they will be holding a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at The Straz Center.

They will be joined by Mayor Jane Castor and law enforcement officials.

You can register at TGH.org/opioidevent.​