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Multipronged Postoperative Opioid Program Cuts Rx Length

Program includes mix of physician education, monitoring, and incentives to shorten Rx length for surgical patients

MONDAY, March 9, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- A systemwide, multipronged pain management and opioid reduction program can significantly reduce opioid discharge prescriptions written for more than five days, according to a study published online March 2 in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Richard Frazee, M.D., from Baylor Scott & White Healthcare in Temple, Texas, and colleagues used electronic health record data to evaluate discharge prescription patterns before (first quarter 2018) and after pain management and opioid stewardship educational conferences were introduced and Enhanced Recovery After Surgery protocols were implemented (second quarter 2018). Finally, in the third quarter of 2018, a quality metric linked to compensation rewarded surgeons for limiting postoperative discharge prescriptions to five or fewer days. Evaluation continued through March 2019.

The researchers identified 31,814 patients who underwent elective surgical procedures during the study period. The rate of postoperative opioid prescriptions of five or fewer days was 81 percent at baseline. In each successive quarter, this rate increased (82, 86, 89, and 92 percent).

"This approach can serve as a model for other health care systems attempting to reduce opioid prescribing and combat the opioid crisis in the United States," the authors write.

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