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Impact of a chronic pain management pathway on opioid administration and prescribing in an Emergency Department. Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2018 08;56(8):744-750



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85034749957   3 Citations


CONTEXT: Prescription opioid abuse and misuse is a significant public health crisis. In 2012, an opioid prescribing pathway for patients with chronic pain presenting to the Emergency Department (ED) was implemented. The objective of this study is to determine the impact of the pathway for administration of opioids in the ED as well as the prescribing of opioids for home use after discharge.

METHODS: Retrospective pre- and post-intervention time series study of consecutive patients presenting to the ED with acute and chronic pain complaints before and after implementation of the pathway. For the purposes of this study, we included patients with chronic abdominal or back pain - defined as pain present for greater than three months - and acute pain as acute long bone fracture.

RESULTS: Before pathway implementation, there was no statistically significant difference in the mean morphine equivalent (MEQ) dose administered for chronic or acute pain patients. After pathway implementation, there was a decrease in IV/IM morphine administered to patients with chronic pain (p = .0200) but not to patients with acute pain (p = .0820). Overall, MEQs administered did not change in either group. In the acute pain group, no significant differences were found in the number of patients who received opioid prescriptions upon discharge (p = .7749). However, in the chronic pain group, the number of patients who received opioid prescriptions upon discharge decreased with statistical significance (p = .0017).

CONCLUSIONS: After the implementation of a chronic pain management pathway in an ED, there is a decrease noted in opioids administered to patients with chronic pain both in the ED and prescriptions on discharge. In patients presenting with acute pain, there was no change in administration or prescription of opioids.

Author List

Pace C, Shah S, Zhang AX, Zosel AE


Amy Elizabeth Zosel MD Associate Professor in the Emergency Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Analgesics, Opioid
Chronic Pain
Emergency Medical Services
Middle Aged
Pain Management
Practice Patterns, Physicians'
Retrospective Studies