A new study by Mitchell International and the WCF Mutual Insurance Company showed a strong downward trend in prescriptions for opioid medications after relatively simple measures were introduced on the part of the insurer. The number of opioids prescribed fell 56% in 18 months after the company started flagging prescriptions for more than 14 days of medication. When such prescriptions were written, WCF either declined to cover the full amount or flat-out rejected them. Further, claim reviewers reminded prescribers of American College of Environmental and Occupational Medicine guidelines on opioids. Specifically, ACOEM advises that “in most nonoperative cases opioids should be limited to several days, preferably less than a week and not to exceed 2 weeks.” That in itself introduced a more thoughtful approach to prescribing among physicians—many of whom reportedly were unaware they were overprescribing. The take-home for urgent care providers who offer occupational medicine services is clear: When you determine that a prescription for an opioid medication is truly warranted, don’t write 14 days (or any particular length) out of habit; thoughtfully consider the minimum length that will provide the necessary relief for the patient.
Reducing Occ Med Opioid Prescriptions Is Simpler than You Might Think