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Focus on quality and safety: Reduction in overall pediatric opioid use

Patrick Courneya, MD, Executive Vice President, Hospitals, Quality, and Care Delivery Excellence, and Chief Medical Officer, Medicare Advantage, 1876 Cost, and Part D Pharmacy Plans at Kaiser Permanente, was recently asked by Becker’s Hospital Review to present a unique solution to a patient care issue. Here is Dr. Courneya’s response:

“As CMO, part of my role is to help ensure that Kaiser Permanente is the best at getting better when it comes to safety, experience and quality of care. Continuous learning requires curiosity about what could be improved, as well as the creativity to develop solutions to challenges that others may not yet recognize as problems. Seeing that happen across Kaiser Permanente is one of the most rewarding things about my work.

“A new approach, developed by a team led by Dr. Anna Grosz, a head and neck surgeon with Northwest Permanente in Oregon, specifies the use of non-opioid painkillers, acetaminophen and ibuprofen, instead of opioids for pain management after removing tonsils. It leverages the electronic health record to encourage and facilitate non-opioid prescriptions. The care team also checks in frequently during recovery to make sure each child is comfortable and recovering well.

“Within 18 months of implementing this new protocol in Kaiser Permanente’s Northwest region, opioid use among pediatric patients who had a tonsillectomy decreased by 67 percent. Today, this protocol has been adopted throughout the Kaiser Permanente system with meaningful reductions in overall pediatric opioid use — accompanied by better pain control and fewer side effects.”

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