To improve patient outcomes and combat a segment of the national opioid epidemic, The University of Tennessee Medical Center and Pacira Pharmaceuticals announced a continuous quality improvement (CQI) project designed to develop low- or no-opioid postsurgical pain management pathways for patients undergoing one of the most common surgical procedures, hernia surgery.
The project is intended to demonstrate that effective postsurgical analgesia is achievable without the need for high volumes of opioids, which in turn, can make a meaningful impact on the patient recovery experience. Utilizing the expertise of CQ-Insights, a leading-edge healthcare data analytics firm, hospital data will be analyzed to track the progress of pathway implementation, the resulting reduction in overall opioid consumption, length of hospital stay, costs, and patient satisfaction.
“Our goal is to truly improve the value of care for our patients by effectively managing pain while preventing unnecessary exposure to postsurgical opioids through the use of multimodal, non-opioid pain management strategies,” says Dr. Bruce Ramshaw, professor and chair of the Department of Surgery at The University of Tennessee Medical Center and University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine. “The ability to measure the value of care, which results in improved patient outcomes and decreased healthcare costs, will come to fruition through projects such as this that include collaboration, outcome measurement and data analytics. The potential for significant improvement exists for hernia patients as well as the entire healthcare delivery system.”
Following a successful demonstration of opioid reduction and quality outcomes among hernia patients, The University of Tennessee Medical Center, an academic medical center located in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Pacira intend to develop an educational program that can be shared with other hospitals and providers, and will consider implementing similar CQI projects in other surgical procedures.
“We are proud to collaborate with the University of Tennessee Medical Center at Knoxville to identify innovative ways to reduce reliance on opioids as the first line of defense for managing acute pain,” says Dave Stack, chairman and chief executive officer of Pacira. “Through their commitment to low-opioid pain control, the University of Tennessee Medical Center at Knoxville is truly taking a leadership position in redefining what is possible when it comes to postsurgical pain management and patient outcomes.”
Beyond the unwanted and potentially life-threatening adverse events associated with opioid use, research continues to uncover the connection between their introduction in the hospital setting and the overall societal opioid burden.
A recent JAMA Internal Medicine article highlighted that for opioid-naive patients, many surgical procedures are associated with an increased risk of chronic opioid use in the postsurgical period; perhaps more startling, a recent national survey revealed that 1 in 10 patients admit they’ve become addicted to or dependent on opioids after being exposed to these powerful medications following an operation.
The University of Tennessee Medical Center at Knoxville serves East Tennessee, Southeastern Kentucky, and Western North Carolina, three of the top 15 states in the U.S. in terms of per capita opioid prescriptions. In 2016, enough opioids were prescribed in these states combined for every resident to have approximately 62 pills each.