Minnesota Surgeons Create New Recommendations for Postoperative Opioid Prescribing

ICSI convenes healthcare leaders to develop a more patient-centered, procedure-specific approach to postoperative opioid prescription practices.

 Bloomington, Minn. – December 8, 2020 – Representatives from ICSI announced efforts to improve postoperative opioid prescribing practices in Minnesota have resulted in significant risk reduction for patients requiring pain management after specific surgical procedures.  Recent claims data shows that ICSI’s initiative has contributed to a 44% decrease in the opioids prescribed by Minnesota surgeons after certain procedures, measured by Morphine Milligram Equivalent (MME). This includes an intensive four-month effort in 2020 that reduced amounts prescribed substantially for  specific procedures including orthopedics (-45%), podiatry (-33%), and spinal surgeries (-52%).

“With this work we’ve proven we can reduce the risk of patients becoming addicted while still helping manage their pain, thus improving quality of care,” said Claire Neely, MD, FAAP, CEO and President of ICSI. initiative shows us that by focusing on improvements one procedure at a time, we can make significant progress toward safer opioid prescribing.”

The Postoperative Opioid Prescribing initiative includes a  workgroup of surgeons who gather monthly to create new recommendations regarding the dosage and amount of opioids prescribed after surgical procedures. Recommendations were made based on the procedure, patient history, current evidence-based research and other proven practices. Changes were suggested and subsequently implemented with a specific focus on improving patient care while reaching new, lower benchmarks for opioid prescriptions.

Data from healthcare claims across the state of Minnesota demonstrates that this work has contributed immensely to  safer prescribing practices.  Reports indicate a state-wide 43% decrease in the average postoperative discharge opioid dose between 2016 and 2019.

“Our principal goal was to reduce risk for addiction among our postoperative patients. Through this work, we moved from prescribing generic practices influenced by more by tradition than science to a data-informed approach in partnership with our patients to meet their individual needs.,” said Todd Stanhope, MD, a physician who practices obstetrics and gynecology with North Memorial Health Hospital, and  a key member of the postoperative opioid prescribing workgroup. “In doing so, we not only achieved our goal, but improved our patients’ experience by reducing pain and adverse effects of the medication. When healthcare providers collaborate and share best practices, we can better meet the health needs of our patients and communities.“

ICSI’s recommendations for opioid prescribing practices can be found in the ICSI Postoperative Opioid Prescribing Toolkit 2020.