October 16, 2023

Limiting opioid medication did not negatively impact patients post-surgery

Editor's Note

A 5-day limit on opioid pain medication prescriptions in Michigan did not negatively impact patient-reported pain levels or satisfaction, JAMA Network October 13 reports. The study, titled "Changes in surgical opioid prescribing and patient-reported outcomes after implementation of an insurer opioid prescribing limit," was published by JAMA Health Forum. 

The study merged two statewide databases on patients covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) and was the first large study of its kind to evaluate whether opioid prescribing limits change patient experience postoperatively. On average, patients having surgical procedures such as appendix removal, hernia repair, and hysterectomy received about three fewer opioid-containing pills.

The 5-day supply limit from BCBSM went into effect in early 2018. Most state limits, including in Michigan, allow for a supply of 7 days. The researchers noted that it is important to understand the effect of these opioid limits across a broad range of procedures to maximize patient benefits while minimizing harm.


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