How Baylor Scott & White Health cut post-surgery opioid prescriptions by 64%

A program implemented at Dallas-based Baylor Scott & White Health helped cut post-surgery opioid prescriptions by 64 percent, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

The program, which the health system implemented in January 2018, included using monthly surgical grand rounds — meetings involving physicians, residents and medical students — to educate surgeons and anesthesiologists about the opioid epidemic and how post-surgery opioid prescriptions played a role in it. Limiting opioid prescriptions to five days or less was emphasized.

The program also included using EHRs to monitor each physician's opioid prescribing practices. After six months, physicians' opioid prescribing practices were linked to the quality component of their pay.

Researchers examined 31,814 patients who had elective surgery at Baylor Scott & White Health hospitals from January 2018 through March 2019.

They found that post-surgery opioid prescriptions for more than five days dropped 64 percent, from 1,228 in the three months before the program started to 432 in the first three months of 2019.

Opioid prescriptions of less than five days increased 15 percent in the same time period.

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