The CDC also has identified that overdoses from prescription opioids directly relate to these disturbing numbers. This data also demonstrates that between 1999 and 2010, the amount of prescription opioids sold to pharmacies, hospitals and doctors’ offices has nearly quadrupled. Statistics show that in 2015, six times more opioids per resident were prescribed in high-prescribing counties than in the lowest-prescribing ones. This provides an opportunity to improve education and change protocols to address the lack of consistency in prescribing habits.
Recent efforts have intensified to educate and train medical students and clinicians on how to more effectively and appropriately prescribe opioids and educate patients. Several UF College of Medicine resident physicians here at UF Health have tackled this issue and are working toward identifying opportunities to help our patients. Notably, David Hall, M.D., general surgery resident; Kevin Olsen, M.D., anesthesiology resident; Juan Mira, M.D., general surgery resident; and Patrick Underwood, M.D., general surgery resident, have identified opportunities to better educate surgical staff in effective opioid prescribing.
One success story involves a significant drop in narcotic pain medications prescribed to patients undergoing colorectal surgery after implementing a new quality improvement initiative. Fewer patients received oral narcotics during their hospital stay and fewer discharged patients received prescriptions for narcotic pain medication. Overall, the total dosages of all inpatient and outpatient narcotic medications dropped from 2,481 mg to 307 mg of morphine-equivalent dose, or MED, following the new protocol.