Greenblatt + Kim on Health Affairs blog

Thursday, November 29, 2018

In a recent Health Affairs blog post published November 26, Drs. Larry Greenblatt and Azalea Kim, along with 4 other authors, urge clinicians and policy makers to develop best practices for assessing early opioid prescribing behaviors.

The team examined the quality of initial opioid prescribing in the North Carolina Medicaid population by reviewing opioid prescriptions filled between 2013 and 2017 for Medicaid beneficiaries younger than age 65 who were continuously enrolled in Medicaid for one year prior to their first opioid prescription (excluding beneficiaries with cancer or hospice claims).

“Examining and tracking the quality of new opioid prescribing is an important component of a comprehensive opioid strategy. However, determining the appropriate metrics to assess 'high quality' prescribing is more difficult than it may initially appear, even when guidelines are available to help develop the criteria. Simply varying guidelines for dosage size and prescription length resulted in radically differing assessments of opioid prescribing patterns in the North Carolina Medicaid program.”

Among other topics, the article cites the current limitations on early opioid therapy to prevent potential adverse outcomes, balancing effective pain relief with risk of downstream harm. 

Greenblatt increasingly is a recognized authority on opioid safety as witnessed in this News & Observer story last August. And, Kim, who is also a member of Duke Forge, is known for her work in applied health data science.

Click here to read the full blog post in Health Affairs.