Reducing long-acting opioid use

Institute project helps cancer patients achieve pain goals

A quality-improvement project improved quality of care, increased staff satisfaction and reduced the use of expensive, long-acting opioid drugs in patients at Frauenshuh Cancer Center.

Dylan Zylla, MD, Co-Medical Director of Oncology Research at Frauenshuh Cancer Center, and his team tested a clinic-wide pain intervention project that involved better documentation of patients’ individual pain goals.

The project was a result of Zylla’s participation in Park Nicollet’s Advanced Training Program in Clinical Quality Improvement, which the Institute manages.

The 18-month project educated patients on pain management and opioids, informed doctors and their staffs about the cost and effectiveness of long-acting opioids and added a nursing procedure to document pain goals in the medical record.

The project aims were to better assess patients’ pain management by more consistent collection of their pain goals, improve pain management by meeting those goals and decrease prescribing of these types of opioids through nursing and physician education.

Documentation of pain goals increased from 20 percent to over 70 percent, and almost 90 percent of patients met their pain goals.

Rates of long-acting opioid prescriptions as a total of all long-acting opioids declined from 46 percent to 35 percent. In recognition of these achievements, Zylla received a 2016 Innovator Award from the Association of Community Cancer Centers.