New Policies Demonstrate Positive Impact on Opioid Prescriptions

HealthDay News — A comprehensive initiative, including creation of prescribing and dispensing policies, monitoring and follow-up processes, and clinical coordination through electronic health record integration, can have a positive impact on opioid prescribing, according to research published online in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice.

Jan L. Losby, PhD, from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues report on the implementation of policy and practice interventions and their impact on opioid prescribing. Data were included from 3,203,880 Kaiser Permanente Southern California members, age 18 years and older.

The researchers identified reductions in all tracked outcomes after intervention, including a 30% decrease in prescribing opioids at high doses. Other reductions included the number of prescriptions with quantities greater than 200 pills (98% reduction), the combination of an opioid prescription with benzodiazepines and carisoprodol (90%), the prescribing of long-acting/extended-release opioids (72%), and the prescribing of brand name opioid-acetaminophen products (95%). During this period there was no increase in methadone prescribing.

“This study adds promising results that a comprehensive system-level strategy has the ability to positively affect opioid prescribing,” the authors write. “The basic components of the intervention are generalizable and applicable to other health care settings.”

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Losby JL, Hyatt JD, Kanter MH, Baldwin G, Matsuoka D. Safer and more appropriate opioid prescribing: a large healthcare system’s comprehensive approach [published online July 14, 2017]. J Eval Clin Pract. doi:10.1111/jep.12756