Evaluating the Impact of Auto-Calculation Settings on Opioid Prescribing at an Academic Medical Center.Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2019 06; 45(6):416-422.JC
Overprescribing of opioids is a key contributor to the opioid epidemic, which has led to a substantial increase in overdose deaths. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the discontinuation of a dispense quantity automatic calculation function on prescribing of as needed (PRN) opioids.
During the implementation of a new electronic health record (EHR), Vanderbilt University Medical Center discontinued functionality that autocalculated the maximum needed dispense quantity for PRN outpatient prescription opioids. This study analyzed prescribing trends for immediate-release hydrocodone- and oxycodone-containing prescriptions 90 days before and after implementation of the new EHR.
A total of 21,323 prescriptions were analyzed in the preintervention group and 22,730 prescriptions in the postintervention group. Discontinuing the autocalculation functionality resulted in a mean decrease of 1.4 dispense units per prescription (58.5 vs. 57.1; p = 0.006) across all patient care areas. The most significant finding was a 10.5% relative decrease in dispense units from inpatient discharge prescriptions (37.2 vs. 33.3; p < 0.001). In the new EHR, PRN oxycodone products defaulted to a dispense quantity of 30, which resulted in a 142.0% (10.0% vs. 24.2%; p < 0.001) increase in oxycodone prescriptions ordered for 30 dispense units but was a net reduction in the doses dispensed per oxycodone prescription.
This study suggests that removing the autocalculation functionality reduced the number of opioid units ordered. In addition, using a default dispense quantity for PRN opioid prescriptions may decrease the number of opioid dispense units per prescription.