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Pain Management Intervention Reduces Opioid Use

According to a study on a hospital intervention program for people with thyroid cancer operations, preoperative counseling and having multiple ways to control pain reduced the amount of opioids patients needed. Post-operative opioid prescriptions were dramatically reduced among many thyroid cancer patients discharged. Because of personalized medication management, fewer people took opioids home from the hospital.

Supporting Patients’ Pain Management Individual Needs

The study’s findings were retrospective and focused on thyroid cancer surgery. The study showed that hospitalized people needed very small amounts of postoperative opioid medication for pain management. The authors wrote that offering multiple types of pain management helped manage pain. “Adequate postoperative pain control was achieved using non-opioid interventions. Implementing an intervention to decrease the quantity of unnecessarily prescribed opioid medications during hospital discharge may help to reduce the risk of opioid addiction and overdose in patients after surgery.”

Snapshot On More Personal Care

By treating patients like individuals and taking a less opioid-centered approach to pain medicine, the doctors helped people avoid addiction or dependence. Not every patient needs opioids for relief, but opioids were the general standard of care in the past. Discharge plans post-surgery often came with opioids.

The study was just a snapshot of one specific surgery among thyroid patients, but it points to how personalized medicine can help find better choices for individual pain management. While not everyone has 10 out of 10 pain, some people with severe discomfort request heavier medication, including opioids. Close surveillance and more personal management of medication management can help people avoid addiction.

Individualized Care With Pain Management

Before starting the study program, nearly  80%  of patients with a thyroid operation were automatically sent home with an opioid prescription. This was problematic as many didn’t need the pills or may have abused them.

After the program started, only 18% of the people with thyroid, head, or other endocrine surgery requested take-home narcotics.

“Preoperative counseling and multimodal pain control resulted in a significantly reduced amount of opioids needed postoperatively,” Jennifer March, MD, of Oregon Health & Science University, told the audience at the American Head and Neck Society, where the study was presented. “Assessing if the patient truly needed opioids at discharge, based on their needs while in the hospital, led to a decrease in the number of opioids prescribed at discharge.”