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Influence of opioid limiting legislation on patient narcotic usage and provider burden in orthopedic trauma

Porter Young, MD, David Michel, MD, Anthony Bell, MD


Objective: Opiate consumption in the United States has reached alarming levels. As a result, the state of Florida enacted House Bill 21 (HB21) in July 2018. Following HB21, we hypothesized total opioids prescribed would decrease, with a resulting increase in phone calls, unscheduled visits for pain control, and refills dispensed.

Design: Retrospective cohort study comparing opiate usage 6 months before and after HB21 enactment.

Setting: Single Level I academic trauma center.

Participants: Patients with isolated lower extremity fractures who were treated with a single surgery.

Intervention: Opioid prescription limitations according to Florida's HB21.

Main outcome measures: We compared morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs) dispensed at discharge, length of stay (LOS), readmissions, emergency room (ER) visits, calls for pain control, refills, and total MMEs dispensed for 3 months postoperatively.

Results: A total of 116 patients met inclusion criteria. Our results demonstrated a decrease in the median MMEs provided at discharge (288 vs. 184, p 0.005) and total MMEs dispensed (375 vs. 225, p 0.0003). There was no significant difference in LOS (2 vs. 2.5 days, p 0.979), unscheduled clinic visits for pain (two per group), ER visits for pain (eight per group), or phone calls for pain (13 vs. 9, p 0.344). There were no readmissions for pain control pre-HB21 and one post-HB21. The percentage of patients obtaining >1 refill decreased from 22.4 to 1.7 percent (p 0.002).

Conclusions: Legislation restricting opioid pain medications may be effective in decreasing opiate use in orthopedic trauma patients while decreasing provider burden.


opioids, orthopedic trauma, legislation

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