09:24 AM

How Hospital for Special Surgery prescribed 500K fewer opioid pills in 18 months

Becker’s Hospital Review reports HSS implemented a Controlled Substances Task Force to limit the risk of opioid misuse among patients who undergo orthopedic surgeries each year.

Becker’s Hospital Review spoke to Seth A. Waldman, MD, anesthesiologist and director of the Pain Management Center at HSS, about how the task force has helped to lower opioid prescribing rates, increase provider education and identify high-risk patients, among other benefits.

Dr. Waldman explained the HSS preoperative pain assessment and treatment program is unique to the Hospital. "When I speak with anesthesiologists and pain specialists from other hospitals, one of the most significant issues they face regarding opioid prescribing is how best to care for patients who are at increased risk for using opioids perioperatively (such as those with an addiction history, sleep apnea, who have had problems with post-op pain control in the past, or are already on high-dose opioids), or who may already be on a regimen that is not medically appropriate for other reasons. The usual response is that they just do the best they can postoperatively, which we feel is not in the patient's best interest,” said Dr. Waldman.

While implementation of the program posed a number of challenges, including staff and patient education, monitoring prescribing behavior and documentation, Dr. Waldman noted, “There is no way that any of these programs could have been instituted without the support of our hospital administration, particularly our president, surgeon-in-chief and physician-in-chief. This is more about a culture change than about any one policy.”

Dr. Waldman concluded, “We have worked hard to change the culture at HSS around responsible opioid prescribing. As a surgical hospital, it is unlikely that we will ever be completely opioid-free — these are extremely effective medications, which, for now, are a necessary component of how we alleviate suffering and perform modern surgery. Opioids can also be extremely dangerous not just for the individual, but for the public health, and it is our responsibility to use them as effectively and safely as possible.”

Read the full article at Beckershospitalreview.com.