To halt the misuse of opioids, it may help to slash the number of pills prescribed, a new study suggests.
Five months after the implementation of new opioid prescription guidelines at a University of Michigan hospital, roughly 7,000 fewer pills went home with patients — a drop that might reduce the risk of accessible pills leading to substance abuse. But the opioid reduction didn’t leave patients who had undergone a routine surgery with more pain, the team reports online December 6 in JAMA Surgery.
“The decline in opioid volume after the intervention was dramatic,” says physician Mark Bicket of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study.
Around 50 percent of people who misuse opioids get the drugs from a friend or relative for free, while 22 percent obtain them from a doctor, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Michael Englesbe, a surgeon at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, says that part of doing a better job of managing patients’ pain “will be preventing chronic opioid use after surgical care and making sure fewer pills get into the community.”
Englesbe and colleagues looked at 170 people who had a minimally invasive surgery to remove their gall bladders…
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