U-M Will Match $1.4M Grant to Curb Post-surgery Opioid Addiction

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A University of Michigan team today launched an initiative to help medical teams across the state care for surgical patients’ pain without setting up individuals for new chronic opioid use, misuse, and addiction.

To support the program, the university will match a $1.4 million per year, five-year grant from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Named the Michigan Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network, or Michigan-OPEN, the effort aims to cut in half both the amount of opioids prescribed to Michigan surgical patients, and the number of patients who still use opioids many months after surgery.

Based in the U-M Medical School and Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation in Ann Arbor, Michigan-OPEN will tap into existing networks of hundreds of doctors, nurses, and hospitals across Michigan that work together to improve surgical care. The team will help members of 12 networks understand and use best practices for pain control in their patients, including the wisest use of opioid painkillers.

“Surgeons prescribe nearly 40 percent of opioid painkillers in Michigan, but have few resources to guide them on the best use of the drugs by patients before and after surgery,” says Dr. Chad Brummett, one of Michigan-OPEN’s three leaders and director of the Division of Pain Research in the U-M Department of Anesthesiology. “We hope that by working with surgical teams across the state, we can fill that gap for the benefit of individual patients and our state as a whole.”

Brummett, along with surgeons Dr. Michael Englesbe and Dr. Jennifer Waljee will lead a team that will collect, analyze, and share information about opioid prescribing patterns in the state. The initiative will also teach hospitals how to hold drug take-back events, which help patients with leftover drugs get them out of the house where they can put others at risk.

U-M research shows that about one in 10 people who weren’t on opioid drugs before surgery become dependent on them afterward. Such dependency can lead to poor health outcomes, as well as the potential for misuse and addiction to both prescription and illegal opioids, including heroin.

For more information, visit michiganopen.org.

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