In a new study, researchers from University of Michigan develop new recommendations for prescribing opioid.
Their recommendations are based on published medical evidence for one operation, gall bladder removal.
The researchers also find that a spillover effect that led them to prescribe roughly 10,000 fewer pills for other major operations.
Opioid prescribing after operations is often excessive. This could lead to leftover pills in patients and encourage opioid abuse.
Procedure-specific postoperative prescribing guidelines can reduce excessive prescribing.
However, it is unclear whether such guidelines are associated with reductions in opioid prescribing for other procedures.
In the current study, researchers conducted a retrospective chart review for patients undergoing several surgeries between January 1, 2016 and August 31, 2017.
A total of 1,158 patients were included in the study.
The team compared postoperative opioid prescription size before and after November 1, 2016, when prescribing guidelines were introduced.
The researchers found that opioid prescription was strongly reduced for the surgeries under the new recommendations.
The results showed that after implementing evidence-based opioid prescribing recommendations for a single surgical procedure, opioid prescribing decreased for 4 other surgical procedures.
In addition, the requests for refills did not increase substantially.
This spillover effect shows the new recommendations helped raise the awareness about safe and appropriate opioid prescribing after operations.
The lead study author is Michael Englesbe, MD, FACS, a transplant surgeon in the department of surgery, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor.
The recommendations are available at https://opioidprescribing.info.
The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.