According to the Great Plains Quality Innovation Network, opioid overdose kills more than 130 people in the United States every day. To help stem the tide of addiction, health care providers in Nebraska have taken steps to reduce prescriptions for painkillers. 

Foremost among their tools is a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program administered by the state. The PDMP keeps track of all medications prescribed to patients in Nebraska, not just opioid painkillers. The PDMP and other approaches have yielded a 32% decrease in the number of opioid prescriptions issued. 

Prescription drug monitoring program

Initially, the PDMP only included medications with high abuse potential. As of 2018, the program has expanded and the program includes all prescriptions dispensed to any address in Nebraska. 

Another recent change allows Nebraska to exchange data on prescriptions with other states. Health systems now also have the ability to embed the PDMP directly into patients’ electronic medical records. 

Other approaches

The PDMP is not the only approach that health care providers have taken to reduce opioid prescriptions. Various health systems and hospitals have taken slightly different approaches: 

  • Expanding the use of regional and local anesthesia 
  • Offering pain education to patients 
  • Revising standard orders for pain medications 
  • Emphasizing music therapy, icing and non-opioids as alternatives to painkillers 

Many opioid prescriptions occur in connection with a surgical procedure. Health care providers in Nebraska are aware of this. They have made particular efforts to reduce opioid use in this context. This means using fewer painkillers during surgery as well as fewer prescriptions both before and after.