As reported at the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress in Boston, the scientists from Western University revealed the results of the STOP Narcotics program that, according to its developers, halved the number of opioids prescribed after two types of outpatient surgery. The new protocol aims to reduce Canada’s opioid crisis across the country.
“By significantly reducing the amount of opioids prescribed, this decreases the exposure risk and potential for misuse of narcotic medication,” explained the study’s leading author, Dr. Luke Hartford. “This also decreases excess medication available to be diverted to individuals for whom it was not intended,” he added.
According to Dr. Hartford, the STOP Narcotics program involves a combination of patient and health provider education, promoting those non-opioid painkillers.
The research, conducted on 416 patients at the London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care who underwent laparoscopic gallbladder removal or open hernia surgery.
Canadian Researchers Developed STOP Narcotics Program To Reduce Canada’s Opioid Crisis
“Ninety percent of the patients said that controlled their pain, they didn’t need the narcotics script filled,” said Dr. Ken Leslie, principal investigator and chief of general surgery at London Health Sciences Centre.
“So we not only decreased the amount we were prescribing in half, but we saw that less than half of the patients were actually filling those prescriptions. Only a very small number still need opioids for additional pain control,” Dr. Hartford said. “We found that in our control group, as well, that even though patients were getting prescribed 20 to 30 tablets of opioid medication, they were only taking around seven of them,” he added.
“We recognized that before STOP Narcotics, every surgeon had a different approach to pain control and that most surgeons were prescribing more narcotics than are actually needed. When we looked at the data from this new protocol, we saw that the patient’s pain-control was just as good with this pathway, without a huge prescription for narcotics,” concluded Dr. Ken Leslie.