Dental Tribune America

Opioid prescriptions reduced by one-third in 43 hospitals

ANN ARBOR, Mich., U.S.: There is a new level of awareness in the U.S. about the opioid crisis and now more physicians are starting to respond with action. In a recent research letter, a team of doctors have shown how hospitals throughout Michigan have reduced the quantity of opioids prescribed to thousands of patients. Results showed that there were no signs of a decrease in patient satisfaction or a decline in pain management.

As reported by Dental Tribune International, a recent study found that U.S. dentists prescribe up to 30% more opioids than their English colleagues do. The researchers who conducted the study were seriously concerned about this disparity and were of the opinion that opioid prescribing practices in the U.S. warranted a second look.

According to the latest study, 43 hospitals took part in actively reducing the prescription of opioids, managing to cut down the number of pills by one-third in a single year. “These results happened because of the work of many members of the care teams at these hospitals—surgeons, nurses, pharmacists and others all took it upon themselves to change their prescribing practices,” said lead author Dr. Joceline Vu, a general surgery resident at Michigan Medicine. “We hope that other hospital teams can learn from this effort, use the guidelines and patient education materials we’ve developed, and gather data on their current surgical opioid prescribing patterns and their own processes to achieve change.”

Founded in 2016, the Michigan Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network (Michigan OPEN) has been working to develop a preventive approach to the opioid epidemic in the state of Michigan. Through this initiative, researchers have developed evidence-based opioid prescribing guidelines that were first tested on gallbladder surgery patients at Michigan Medicine, before being expanded to other types of surgery.

Co-director of Michigan OPEN and University of Michigan surgery professor Dr. Michael Englesbe noted that the success of the project offers an opportunity for other states to follow suit and achieve even greater reductions in opioid prescription levels.

The research letter, titled “Statewide implementation of postoperative opioid prescribing guidelines,” was published on Aug. 15, 2019, in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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