The benefits of a standardized approach to opioid prescribing

David Patchett, Michael L Grover, Molly Kresin, Michael Bryan, Jon Nordrum, Matthew Buras, Susan Pierce, Kristina McDaniel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose The "opioid epidemic" in the United States has received increasing attention over the past few years. Most drug overdose deaths involve an opioid, and prescription opioid deaths have quadrupled since 1999. We sought to improve patient safety and adhere to clinical guidelines by standardizing opioid prescribing in our practice. Methods We implemented a standardized approach to opioid prescribing based on Arizona Department of Health Services guidelines. All of our providers received instruction on Arizona's Controlled Substance Prescription Monitoring Program (AZCSPMP) database and were encouraged to use it online. Our goal was for patients to have quarterly office visits, complete random urine drug screens, and sign a controlled substance agreement (CSA). The CSA acknowledged their understanding of the risks and benefits of opioid therapy as well as our updated prescribing policies. Results Three-hundred fifty-eight of our practice's patients were receiving chronic opioid therapy. All providers enrolled in AZCSPMP and used it for patient care. We increased rates of signed CSAs from 4.5% to 43.6%, and urine drug screening from 0.8% to 20.1%. For 325 patients remaining in the practice after our interventions, a postintervention chart review demonstrated a statistically significant discontinuation of opioid therapy (71/325, 21.8%; 95% confidence interval, 17.4%-26.7%). Conclusion Implementation of a standardized opioid prescribing process resulted in discontinuation of therapy for some patients. Rates increased for signed CSAs and completed random urine drug screening. Future process interventions may improve patient and provider adherence. All primary care physicians should examine their prescribing processes to enhance the safety of opioid therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1-E7
JournalJournal of Family Practice
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


Dive into the research topics of 'The benefits of a standardized approach to opioid prescribing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this