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Opioid safety initiative associated with decreased emergency department opioid prescribing

The opioid abuse epidemic has focused attention on efforts to decrease opioid prescribing. Although education and feedback interventions are potential levers to affect opioid prescribing, their incremental contribution against a background of declining opioid prescriptions is unclear. We retrospectively evaluated opioid prescribing frequencies after an emergency physician-specific education and feedback initiative in an integrated health care system. We evaluated opioid prescriptions for adult patients discharged from 21 emergency departments (EDs) between January 1, 2014, and December 31, 2018. Applying interrupted time series methodology to account for time trends, we analyzed pre- to postintervention changes in prescribing of any opioid and in opioid prescriptions for greater than 20 tablets. We studied all ED visits, visits for back pain and acute extremity fracture, and visits stratified by physicians with high vs low frequency of opioid prescribing. We identified patient, physician, and visit characteristics associated with postintervention ED opioid prescriptions (2018). Of 1.01 million preintervention and 1.59 million postintervention ED visits, after adjusting for the background trend over time, the intervention was associated with a 3.4% decrease in frequency of opioid prescriptions post intervention (95% CI, -4% to -2.8%), with similar decreases in high-quantity prescriptions (> 20 tablets) and back pain- and acute extremity fracture-related ED visits. Postintervention adjusted analyses indicated no significant association between opioid prescription and race/ethnicity or prior history of opioid abuse. The ED Opioid Safety Initiative was associated with a near-term decrease in multiple categories of opioid prescribing, including for selected subgroups of common painful conditions.

Authors: Kene, Mamata; Bhopale, Sunil; Eaton, Abigail; Awsare, Sameer V; Reed, Mary E

Am J Manag Care. 2022 Jun 01;28(6):e203-e211. Epub 2022-06-01.

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