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HealthPartners prescribes opioids to pregnant women at lower rate than nation

March 26, 2018

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – A HealthPartners Institute study shows HealthPartners Medical Group prescribes opioids to pregnant women at a lower rate than many clinics nationwide. Thomas Elliott, MD, HealthPartners Institute investigator led a study looking at the use of opioids before, during, and after pregnancy. HealthPartners clinics prescribed opioids to pregnant women at a rate of 5 percent to 7 percent compared to 6.5 percent to 42 percent nationwide according to data from several publications.

“There are medical practices in our country, HealthPartners being one, doing a better, more evidence-based job in the use of [opioids],” said Dr. Elliott. “What they’ve done can be replicated by other medical groups.”

The study took place from 2006 to 2014. Dr. Elliott studied women between ages 10 to 50 with a delivery diagnosis. Pregnant women would get prescriptions for opioids due to painful conditions. He found that significant opioid use was associated with:

  • Single marital status
  • Medicaid coverage
  • Having a Caesarean delivery
  • Tobacco use and non-opioid analgesic use
  • Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and/or substance use disorder diagnoses
  • Referrals to physical therapy, psychotherapy, or pain specialists

Dr. Elliott said HealthPartners was ahead of the curve in predicting the opioid crisis as it related to pregnant women. He said in 2005, clinicians set up measurement outcomes to insure that group practice guidelines were based on evidence.

“HealthPartners has guidelines for pregnant women,” said Dr. Elliott. “If you prescribe to a woman who is pregnant at a HealthPartners clinic, it flashes on the electronic health record as a Best Practice Alert to the provider. They screen all pregnant women for substance use. Providers are more aware of these women and can offer assistance.”

“At HealthPartners through our Healthy Beginnings program we screen all women during their pregnancy for substance use and provide non-judgmental 1:1 support for our patients,” said Dr. Charles Lais, HealthPartners Medical Group Medical Director. “By screening everyone and not profiling a specific group we are able to maintain the trust of our patients in that we are helping them have the healthiest pregnancy possible. The electronic health record has help organize our care plan and it also helps our clinicians make the best choices for care or our patients.”

About HealthPartners Institute

HealthPartners Institute is part of HealthPartners, the largest consumer-governed, non-profit health care organization in the nation with a mission to improve health and well-being in partnership with members, patients and the community. The Institute has about 400+ studies underway each year, trains 575 medical residents and fellows and 1200 medical and advanced practice students. The Institute provides continuing medical education to 24,000 health professionals as well as patient education and clinical quality improvement. For more information, visit

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