Assess Effectiveness of Opioid Prescription Policies for Acute Pain Management




Machchhar, Arti

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Content Notes


BACKGROUND: In 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared the Opioid Crisis a public health emergency. Regulatory agencies and institutions have adopted several guidelines to ensure opioids are prescribed appropriately. In October 2014, the DEA changed the schedule of hydrocodone combination products (HCPs) from schedule III to schedule II narcotics. This led to a substantial rise in Tylenol 3 prescriptions at the University of Texas at Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW) due to the institutional guideline that prevents residents from prescribing schedule II narcotics without documented approval from an attending physician. OBJECTIVE: We sought to evaluate whether the UTSW guideline preventing residents from prescribing schedule II narcotics serves to improve patient safety and pain management. METHODS: Prescription data and associated patient demographic data was pulled directly from the UTSW electronic medical record (EMR) for one year prior to and following the rescheduling of HCPs. Additional data was pulled for the 2019 and 2020 calendar years. The proportion of T3 and schedule II narcotic prescriptions was calculated for all time periods and stratified for age, race, provider type, and department. RESULTS: One year before the rescheduling of hydrocodone, the vast majority of prescriptions were schedule II narcotics at 98.92% and T3 was very rarely prescribed at 1.08%. In 2014 - 2015 following the rescheduling of HCPs, there was an overall decrease in opioid prescriptions and the proportion of T3 prescriptions rose to 49.94%. In 2019 and 2020, the overall number of opioid prescriptions increased to 17,297 in 2019 and 15,395 in 2020 and the proportion of T3 prescriptions decreased to 37.12% and 33.89% respectively. CONCLUSION: The rescheduling of HCPs led to the dramatic shift in Tylenol 3 prescriptions, indicating that regulatory agencies and institutional guidelines are driving prescribing habits. Tylenol 3 is being prescribed at a significant rate however, information regarding its addictive potential, metabolic effects, and potential adverse effects remains relatively unknown. The drug policies and institutional guidelines discussed disproportionately affect people of color and lower socioeconomic class.

General Notes

Table of Contents


Related URI