Cutting opioid prescriptions may be as easy as asking patients how many they'll need, study finds

Asking patients to be involved in deciding how many opioids they need could help lower opioid prescribing rates, according to a study published in The Green Journal.

Researchers from Ann Arbor-based Michigan Medicine designed a shared decision-making intervention to help educate patients about postoperative pain management and their options. Patients were shown a pain management-focused visual aid after surgery and physicians discussed the typical number of opioids required to help manage pain as well as the risks and side effects of opioid use.

Physicians also told patients the maximum number of opioids that may be prescribed. Patients were then asked to choose how many they think they would need, with reassurance that the prescription could be altered if necessary.

Researchers examined the effects of the intervention among 159 female patients who underwent a hysterectomy in 2018.

They found that most of the women decided not to get the maximum number of opioids that could be prescribed. Also, the intervention led to seven fewer opioid tablets per patient.

Even though fewer opioids were prescribed, nearly 98 percent of patients reported that their pain control was adequate or good and 63 percent said their pain level was better or much better than they expected.

Additionally, more than half of the patients discontinued opioid use during their recovery.

More articles on opioids:
4 states, 5 drug companies agree to $48B opioid settlement
Nearly 50% of women are over-prescribed opioids at discharge after C-section
US spent $631B addressing opioid crisis in last 4 years, study finds

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