What hospitals can do to help keep excess opioids out of communities | Science News

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What hospitals can do to help keep excess opioids out of communities

Guidelines to limit size of drug prescriptions don’t leave patients with more pain, study finds

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5:23pm, December 6, 2017
opioid pills

PILL PURGE New opioid prescribing guidelines tested over a five-month period in Michigan kept thousands of opioid pills like these from being unnecessarily doled out, researchers say.

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.

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