NHRMC efforts to reduce opioid prescriptions will prevent thousands of pills from entering the community

March 07, 2018

Efforts to reduce opioid prescriptions led by New Hanover Regional Medical Center physicians are on pace to prevent more than 800,000 opioid pills from entering the community over a 12-month period.

In February, the number of opioid prescriptions dropped by 22% from the 12-month average of Fiscal Year 2017. The number of opioid pills prescribed declined by over 26%, which means 93,775 fewer opioid pills were in the community in one month’s time. Over the past four months, the project has reduced opioid pills by 304,284.

The Opioid Task Force of the Medical Executive Committee that leads NHRMC’s medical staff, led by Dr. Kevin Cannon, adopted guidelines that went into effect Oct. 17, 2017, encouraging physicians to prescribe opioids less often, for less duration and with fewer pills. It also promoted more use of non-opioid therapy, such as other medications or physical therapy.

The percentage of patients receiving complimentary, non-opioid pain therapy, a key part of the opioid prescribing guidelines, increased from 3.64% to 30.95% of patients.

NHRMC has been participating in community-wide opioid reduction efforts along with law enforcement, the courts, county government and other non-profit partners. Permanent medication dropboxes have been added at the NHRMC Outpatient Pharmacy, ED-North and Pender Memorial Hospital. A medication takeback event on Oct. 28 at nine sites collected more than 2,800 pounds of medications from the community. For a complete list of medication disposal sites in the region, visit www.nhrmc.org/medication-disposal.

The next region-wide medication takeback event, set for April 28, will include 15 sites in six counties.