Ohio continues to be at the epicenter of the opioid crisis, impacting families across our community. Studies show that nearly 80 percent of Americans using heroin (including those in treatment) report misusing prescription opioids first.
Fueled by a $21,635 grant from bi3, TriHealth’s Hatton Research Institute recently completed the COPE (Confronting the Opioid Epidemic) Study — a randomized, controlled study examining the effectiveness of the PainPack System, a non-opioid pain management alternative. The PainPack System includes a patient education sheet, a patient diary with detailed administration instructions and three clearly labeled, color-coded packs of medications containing five oxycodone (opioid) pills, 28 Tylenol pills and 21 ibuprofen pills. By contrast, a typical prescription includes 28 oxycodone pills.
The aim of the study was to decrease the risk of opioid addiction by changing physician-prescribing patterns and delivering a higher, more personalized level of education surrounding pain management. The study analyzed data from nearly 300 surgical patients and the results of the study are highly encouraging:
- Patients receiving the PainPack reported using less than half as many opioids as patients receiving the standard prescription
- Pain management between both groups was similar
- Patients receiving the PainPack were prescribed more than 2,000 less opioid pills
- Patients in the study returned more than 3,000 opioid tablets for disposal, reducing the number of opioids available in the community. Based on this data, it is estimated that patients would return 16,000 if the PainPack protocol was used on a year’s worth of hernia surgeries.
In addition to these positive outcomes, patients using the PainPack reported that:
- The blister packs were helpful in tracking medications and consumption
- They enjoyed one-on-one time devoted to education about medications
- They felt more aware of their healing and recovery
What’s more, patients brought in old medications for disposal in addition to their current unused tablets.
The study proves there is a clear advantage of giving less opioid pills in a clearly marked pack before the patient leaves the hospital. TriHealth is exploring how this study can further impact physician prescribing patterns and the availability of opioids in our community.