Opioid Prescribing Can Be Reduced in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Practice.


Private Practice in Oral Surgery, Gurnee, IL. Electronic address: [Email]


OBJECTIVE : Pain management is one of the most critical aspects of practice in oral and maxillofacial surgery. The purpose of this study was to measure the change in strong (stronger than codeine 30 mg) opioid use after introducing the standardized protocol ("office protocol") designed for opioid-free postoperative pain management.
METHODS : This is a retrospective cohort study of patients who had surgical procedures performed at the NorthShore Center for Oral and Facial Surgery (Gurnee, IL). Data of patients who underwent qualified surgical procedures and filled prescriptions for strong opioids before and after introduction of the office protocol were analyzed. The primary predictor variable was introduction of the office protocol. The primary outcome variable was filling of a strong opioid prescription that was correlated to pain control as assessed by patients. Age and gender distributions also were analyzed. Proportions and associated 95% confidence intervals were used to compare the number of hydrocodone or oxycodone (strong) prescriptions filled by patients during a 3-year interval.
RESULTS : In March 2016, the office protocol for pain management, designed to decrease opioid use, was introduced. In 2015 (before introduction of the office protocol), 2,016 adult patients (15 to 85 yr old) underwent qualified surgical procedures at the author's practice, 1,184 (59%) of whom required and filled strong opioid prescriptions. In 2017 (2 yr after introduction of the office procedure) that number decreased to 19%, whereas the number of qualified surgical procedures performed remained relatively the same between the years. Postoperative pain control was not qualitatively measured but was assumed adequate and correlated with the filling of a strong opioid prescription or requiring a refill, which would be recorded as part of total prescriptions filled.
CONCLUSIONS : A 3-fold decrease in hydrocodone or oxycodone prescription fill was seen at the 2-year interval. As alternatives, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen, and a homeopathic recovery kit (Vega Recovery Kit, StellaLife, Glenview, IL) were used for pain management for patients undergoing various oral surgery procedures.

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