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Reducing Opioid Prescriptions for One Operation Can Also Spill Over to Other Procedures

Dr. Michael Englesbe, co-director of Michigan OPEN and a transplant surgeon at the University of Michigan, has recently taken major strides in curbing the negative outcomes of the opioid epidemic. Describing the role of physicians in mitigating these consequences, he stated that,

“Every surgeon, no matter what specialty or procedure they do, dentists included, needs to be thoughtful about how they prescribe opioids and be realistic that overprescribing can really have some devastating complications.”

It was with this mindset that Dr. Englesbe and his research team set out to create opioid prescribing recommendations for a common elective surgery, laparoscopic cholecystectomy (minimally invasive gallbladder removal).

Predicting that his recommendations would reduce prescribing for this operation, the surgeon discovered a spillover effect that led to approximately 10,000 fewer opioid pills being prescribed for four additional operations. Upon reflection, Dr. Englesbe reported that, “the [gallbladder removal guidelines] had a significant impact on how we prescribe for other procedures.” In striving to create safe and effective prescribing practices, Dr. Englesbe and his team generated findings that are relevant to surgeons in every specialty across the nation.