Opioid prescribing practices before and after initiation of palliative care in outpatients

J. Cameron Muir, Carl Scheffey, Heidi M. Young, Agustin O. Vilches, Malene S. Davis, Stephen R. Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Context: Prescription Monitoring Programs (PMPs) are being developed and implemented in many states to deter abuse, diversion, and overdose, and physicians may use PMPs to help guide their treatment choices for individual patients. Objectives: To evaluate the changes in prescribing practices and pain score outcomes in patients with cancer before and after an initial consult in an outpatient palliative care clinic. Methods: This is a retrospective study with a sample of 60 consecutive patients who had been referred by oncologists for difficult-to-manage pain and whose initial palliative care consult was with either of the two physicians in the outpatient palliative care clinic. For each patient, lists were compiled of all prescriptions for controlled medications and filled for the 90-day periods immediately before and after the initial consult. Data from patient charts were combined with information from the Virginia PMP, which included prescriptions written before and after the initiation of palliative care, written by prescribers both inside and outside the palliative care clinic. Results: After the palliative care consult, the proportion of patients on long-acting opioids increased from 45% to 73%. Self-reported pain outcomes, which were compiled for the subset of patients who continued palliative care for at least 60 days, showed a median decrease of two units on a 0-10 scale. A decrease was seen in the use of medications that compound acetaminophen with opioids. Conclusion: Data from a PMP proved useful in understanding the changes in a population of patients. Favorable changes were observed in prescribing practices and pain outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1107-1111
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Palliative care
  • Prescription Monitoring Program
  • opioids
  • pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Opioid prescribing practices before and after initiation of palliative care in outpatients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this