Real-World Observational Evaluation of Common Interventions to Reduce Emergency Department Prescribing of Opioid Medications

Link to article at PubMed

Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2023 Feb 3:S1553-7250(23)00027-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjq.2023.01.013. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Prior work on opioid prescribing has examined dosing defaults, interruptive alerts, or "harder" stops such as electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS), which has become increasingly required by state policy. Given that real-world opioid stewardship policies are concurrent and overlapping, the authors examined the effect of such policies on emergency department (ED) opioid prescriptions.

METHODS: The researchers performed observational analysis of all ED visits discharged between December 17, 2016, and December 31, 2019, across seven EDs of a hospital system. Four interventions were examined in chronological order, with each successive intervention added on top of all previous interventions: 12-pill prescription default, EPCS, electronic health record (EHR) pop-up alert, and 8-pill prescription default. The primary outcome was opioid prescribing, which was described as number of opioid prescriptions per 100 discharged ED visits and modeled as a binary outcome for each visit. Secondary outcomes included prescription morphine milligram equivalents (MME) and non-opioid analgesia prescriptions.

RESULTS: A total of 775,692 ED visits were included in the study. Compared to the preintervention period, cumulative reductions in opioid prescribing were seen with incremental interventions, including after adding a 12-pill default (odds ratio [OR] 0.88, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.82-0.94), after adding EPCS (OR 0.7, 95% CI 0.63-0.77), after adding pop-up alerts (OR 0.67, 95% CI 0.63-0.71), and after adding an 8-pill default (OR 0.61, 95% CI 0.58-0.65).

CONCLUSION: EHR-implemented solutions such as EPCS, pop-up alerts, and pill defaults had varying but significant effects on reducing ED opioid prescribing. Policy makers and quality improvement leaders might achieve sustainable improvements in opioid stewardship while balancing clinician alert fatigue through policy efforts promoting implementation of EPCS and default dispense quantities.

PMID:36914528 | DOI:10.1016/j.jcjq.2023.01.013

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