Reducing Opioids


Anchor lead: It is possible to reduce opioid use after surgery, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Opioids are a concern for everyone these days, with physicians trying hard to find alternatives. An approach developed by Glen Whitman, a cardiovascular surgeon at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues, involves using two medications right after surgery that aren’t opioids to keep pain in control, followed by a plan at discharge.

Glen Whitman: We now have a protocol where we look at how much narcotic a person has received in the 48 hours prior to discharge, and then we give them that amount to last over the next seven days, and only over the next seven days. So no one gets two or three weeks worth of narcotics anymore, and if you want more narcotics and you’re still having pain, it’s a conversation between us and you. You don’t have an automatic refill.      :25

Whitman notes that patients too are concerned about using opioids and the potential for addiction, so they welcome this approach when it is explained to them. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.