• October 18, 2018

Confronting the Opioid Crisis: Prescribing Thoughtfully

Steve Allen, M.D.Steve Allen, MD, CEO of Nationwide Children's Hospital, describes how his hospital helps patients avoid opioid misuse.

“At Nationwide Children's, we avoid prescribing opioids for our young patients whenever possible. However, some older pediatric patients may have painful conditions that necessitate long-term opioid use. As we work to help our patients manage this pain, we know it’s also our duty to help them avoid any potential dependency issues

That’s why these patients go to our Comprehensive Pain Management Clinic. Screening for medication misuse is conducted at every appointment in the clinic, and algorithms for managing addiction risk levels ensure appropriate adjustments in patient care. 

In 2016, we also began examining how we prescribe opioids after surgery and in other short-term pain management situations through an Opioid Safety Task Force. Our internal research indicated that we were prescribing more pills than some children needed. Leftover pills were sitting in medicine cabinets, a potential trigger for misuse — we knew we could do better. We developed a Prescribing and Education Initiative to help our medical faculty learn best prescription practices and assess patients for abuse after opioids were prescribed. 

While we continue to look for improvement opportunities, our efforts have already led to a 30 percent reduction in doses per home-going opioid prescription.”