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Background: Opioid abuse and overdose are in epidemic range in the United States and medical prescriptions, including those for postoperative analgesia, are a large contributing source to this misuse. Our quality improvement initiative aimed to reduce the opioid prescribing of pediatric orthopaedic surgeons in the postoperative setting. The aim was to decrease the percentage of children with surgically treated supracondylar humerus (SCH) fractures who are prescribed opioid medications at discharge from a baseline of 40% to 10% within 6 months.
Setting/Local Problem: The study took place at an urban level 1 trauma center at a children’s hospital. The orthopaedic team completed closed reduction and percutaneous pinning for SCH fractures over a 14-month baseline period. Forty percent of these patients were discharged with an opioid prescription. After assessing baseline prescription rates, a multidisciplinary team of health professionals developed a key driver diagram.
Interventions: Primary interventions included orthopedic department-wide pain management education, reporting of prescription rates during monthly conferences, and provider-specific feedback. The primary measure was the percentage of patients prescribed opioids upon discharge following closed reduction and percutaneous pinning of Type II and III SCH fractures. As a balancing measure, we tracked the use of a 24-hour nurse triage line for pain-related follow-up in the intervention period. We used statistical process control to examine changes in measures over time.
Results: The percentage of patients receiving opioid prescriptions upon discharge following surgically treated SCH fractures decreased from 40% to 8% over 5 months and sustained for an additional 16 months.
Conclusions: Through provider education, feedback, and regular reporting, we decreased the number of pediatric patients with surgically treated SCH fractures that were discharged with any opioid prescription by 80% over 5 months while ensuring clinically adequate pain control.