After Surgery Protocols to Reduce Opioid Usage
Zarina Ali, MD, MS
Tracy Flanders, MD
The national opioid epidemic is a growing concern in the medical community, particularly in surgical populations. Previous studies show that up to seven percent of all patients who undergo spinal surgeries continue to take opioids one year after surgery.
A team of researchers at Penn Medicine leveraged Way to Health to assess the effect of a novel enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocol on clinical outcomes and opioid requirements for patients undergoing elective spine or peripheral nerve surgery.
The outcomes of patients in the intervention group were compared to a historical cohort who underwent traditional surgical care.
The ERAS pathway safely reduced patients’ postoperative opioid requirements during hospitalization and one month postoperatively. Patients who completed the pathway also demonstrated improved postoperative mobilization and ambulation.
Penn Medicine’s Opioid Task Force has implemented findings from this study through health system guidelines and enterprise-wide clinical decision support tools.