Diversion of excess prescription opioids contributes to the opioid epidemic. We sought to describe and study the impact of a comprehensive departmental initiative to decrease opioid prescribing in surgery.
A multispecialty multidisciplinary initiative was designed to change the culture of postoperative opioid prescribing, including: consensus-built opioid guidelines for 42 procedures from 11 specialties, provider-focused posters displayed in all surgical units, patient opioid/pain brochures setting expectations, and educational seminars to residents, advanced practice providers, residents and nurses. Pre- (April 2016–March 2017) versu post-initiative (April 2017–May 2018) analyses of opioid prescribing at discharge [median oral morphine equivalent (OME)] were performed at the specialty, prescriber, patient, and procedure levels. Refill prescriptions within 3 months were also studied.
A total of 23,298 patients were included (11,983 pre-; 11,315 post-initiative). Post-initiative, the median OME significantly decreased for 10 specialties (all P values < 0.001), the percentage of patients discharged without opioids increased from 35.7% to 52.5% (P < 0.001), and there was no change in opioids refills (0.07% vs 0.08%, P = 0.9). Similar significant decreases in OME were observed when the analyses were performed at the provider and individual procedure levels. Patient-level analyses showed that the preinitiative race/sex disparities in opioid-prescribing disappeared post-initiative.
We describe a comprehensive multi-specialty intervention that successfully reduced prescribed opioids without increase in refills and decreased sex/race prescription disparities.
Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.
The authors report no conflicts of interest.