Reducing opioid use for chronic pain in older adults

Joshana K. Goga, Annie Michaels, Marc Zisselman, Antonio Depaolo, Sunil Khushalani, J. Ken Walters, Anita Poloway, Robert Roca, Matthew Kopp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A multidisciplinary team at Sheppard Pratt Health System, the largest private provider of psychiatric care in Maryland, used lean methodology to identify the root causes for noncompliance to evidence-based practices for patients in the geropsychiatry unit treated for osteoarthritis or chronic back pain. The team collaborated to develop a facility-specific treatment algorithm, called SAFE PAIN (Sheppard Pratt Health System Algorithm For Elderly Patient Centered Analgesia Interdisciplinary Nagara), was based on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's evidencebased recommendations that included nonpharmacologic interventions as a first-line therapy for patients with osteoarthritis or chronic back pain. Rates of prescribing new opioids and prescribing evidence-based alternative medications via the SAFE PAIN algorithm were evaluated from March 1 to September 30, 2017 and compared with baseline (2012-2016). The lean methodology interventions led to zero new opioid orders during the study period, a significant decrease compared with previous years (p > 0.01). The rates of prescribing evidence-based alternative medications increased significantly from the baseline period to postimplementation (p > 0.01). Lean methodology interventions also decreased waste in several processes. Conclusion. The prescribing rate of new opioids for osteoarthritis and chronic back pain decreased and the prescribing rate for evidence-based medications increased after implementation of the SAFE PAIN algorithm in a geropsychiatry unit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)554-559
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Health-System Pharmacy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 8 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • chronic pain
  • elderly
  • lean
  • opioids
  • psychiatry
  • work process

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Health Policy


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