Premier launches initiative to improve opioid safety

Hydrocodone opioid pills
Premier, Inc. will partner with the American Society of Anesthesiologists to launch an initiative that pilots new pain management techniques and increase opioid safety. (Getty/smartstock)

Premier Inc., a healthcare improvement company that aligns more than 3,750 hospitals, is launching an initiative to bring providers together to improve pain management in the wake of the opioid epidemic.

The organization will partner with the American Society of Anesthesiologists for the initiative. The pilot will initially focus on adult patients recovering from hip or knee replacements and colectomy procedures, and aims to empower hospitals to redesign their pain management best practices to encourage safer use of opioid medications.

Premier will launch the program in 30 hospitals from September 2017 to March 2018 through its Hospital Improvement Innovation Network.

“Across our nation, we have seen the devastating effects of the opioid crisis,” Neil Meltzer, CEO of LifeBridge Health in Baltimore, one of the hospitals in the pilot, said in the announcement. “To tackle this epidemic, we must be willing to embrace new approaches, innovation and partnerships.”

The participating hospitals will pilot initiatives to better understand and work to meet patient and family pain management expectations and to promote safe storage and disposal of opioid drugs to prevent diversion or misuse. Clinical teams will be trained in appropriate prescribing, dispensing and patient screening protocols.

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Cutting down on opioid prescriptions as the addiction crisis continues across the country is a top priority for federal agencies, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines aimed at reducing opioid prescriptions. Some states are using more aggressive tactics to curb prescriptions, even prosecuting physicians in some cases.

Premier said it would support providers in the pilot by offering webinars and technical assistance as they worked to develop new solutions. Findings from the pilot will be shared across its innovation network to enable peer-to-peer data sharing, and also with lawmakers who seek solutions to the opioid crisis.