Decreasing Opioid Use Postpartum: A Quality Improvement Initiative

Rebecca G. Rogers*, Michael Nix, Zachary Chipman, Michael Breen, Chad Dieterichs, Stephanie Nutt, Jamie Moxham, Patrick Chang, Paul J. Rathouz, Henry Robertson, Amy Young

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE:To estimate the effects of an inpatient initiative to decrease opioid use among women admitted to labor and delivery.METHODS:We created a multimodal pain power plan with standard therapeutic postpartum activity goals rather than pain goals, tiered order sets with scheduled administration of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and embedded changes into the electronic health record. Before the multimodal pain power plan launch, pain was assessed on a 10-point scale; women received NSAIDs for pain levels of 3 or less and opioids for pain levels higher than 3. For this analysis, we included women who delivered at 5 hospitals in the 10 months before and 12 months after the multimodal pain power plan launch. Women with prior substance use disorder or complicated deliveries were excluded and we stratified analyses into women who delivered vaginally compared with by cesarean. Opioid use was converted to morphine milligram equivalent (MME). Women rated pain control in 24-hour blocks using individually ascertained cutoffs. A multivariable regression analysis was performed, and adjusted odds ratios are reported.RESULTS:We compared the 6,892 women who delivered 10 months before the pain power plan launch to the 7,527 who delivered in the 12 months after the launch. The mean cohort age was 29.6±6.0 years; the majority (75%) were white. Risk of opioid use decreased by 26% among women who delivered vaginally (risk ratio [RR] 0.74; 95% CI [0.68, 0.81]) and 18% among women who delivered by cesarean (RR 0.82; 95% CI [0.72, 0.92]). Among women who received opioids, mean MME use decreased 21% (RR 0.79; 95% CI [0.70, 0.88]) and 54% (RR 0.46; 95% CI [0.35, 0.61]) in the vaginal and cesarean delivery groups, respectively. Fewer women reported acceptable pain levels, with decreases of 82-69% (P<.01) and 82-74% (P<.01) in the vaginal and cesarean delivery groups, respectively. Within the postlaunch cesarean delivery group, women also reported that they were less likely to have their pain well controlled on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems questionnaires (82% vs 62%, P <.01).CONCLUSION:A standardized multimodal pain power plan reduced opioid use among a large cohort of women admitted to labor and delivery in Central Texas. Despite meeting functional goals, some women reported increased pain during their hospital stay.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)932-940
Number of pages9
JournalObstetrics and gynecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


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