July 19, 2018

Lowering default pill counts in EHR systems associated with postop opioid prescribing

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor’s Note

Lowering the default number of opioid pills prescribed in an electronic health record (EHR) system is a simple, effective, inexpensive, and potentially scalable intervention to change prescriber behavior and decrease the amount of opioids prescribed postoperatively, finds this study.

In this analysis of 1,447 procedures before the default change and 1,463 after the default change, lowering the default from 30 to 12 pills decreased the amount of opioids prescribed by more than 15% across a health system. There was no statistical difference in opioid refill rates before or after the default change.

Curtailing the opioid epidemic is a national priority and requires a multifaceted approach. Altering the default option presented to physicians has the potential to change prescribing behavior by resetting prescribers’ beliefs about the amount of opioid needed, the authors note.

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