We are proud to announce that Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and our Prescription Drug Abuse (Opioid) Task Force have received the Quality Improvement and Innovation Group Challenge Coin Award from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services!

This award recognizes our dedication to decreasing overall Hospital opioid use while maintaining effective pain control, in turn supporting our commitment to consistently enhance and innovate patient care. Over a two-year period, an institution-wide quality improvement initiative reduced the number of ambulatory, or outpatient, pediatric opioid prescriptions by more than one-third and ambulatory doses prescribed by more than 50 percent.

To begin the initiative, the Hospital sent a survey to parents of children who had received an opioid prescription between Nov. 1, 2016 and Feb. 13, 2017. The majority of parents reported filling opioid prescriptions when prescribed. Of the patients who took opioids, the majority (55 percent) took the medication for three days at most, and 86 percent had medication left over. Most patients (90 percent) did not require a medication refill, and among those with leftover medication, a minority (35 percent) disposed of it.

Based on these findings, Rady Children’s established our multidisciplinary task force, which includes physicians, pharmacists, nurses and patient families. Because the majority of survey respondents said they had leftover opioids and also indicated they did not throw them away, the team conceptualized and implemented strategies to reduce opioid prescriptions overall, as well as the duration of prescriptions given. The task force also created patient education materials addressing the risks of opioid use, overdose, and the importance of safe storage and disposal practices. In addition, the Hospital initiated efforts in several specialties to lower opioid use after surgeries, which have been successful.

To learn more about pain management at Rady Children’s, visit https://www.rchsd.org/programs-services/pain-management/.