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Characterizing Patients after Opioid Taper in a VA Medical Center.

Muzzio K, Chandler M, Painter JT, Dragic L. Characterizing Patients after Opioid Taper in a VA Medical Center. Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy. 2021 Jun 1; 35(2):84-90.

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To identify potential areas for intervention and gain insight on current practice in patients who are tapered to zero morphine equivalent daily doses (MEDD) through the Pharmacy Pain E-Consult at a Veterans Healthcare System. This was done by describing the types of follow-up care and resources utilized by patients. This project is a retrospective chart review of Veterans with non-cancer pain on chronic-opioid therapy consulted to the pharmacy e-consult service and tapered to 0 MEDD. Descriptive statistics are collected one year pre-taper and one year post-taper. One year post-taper, approximately one-third of the patients were re-started on opioid therapy. However, average MEDD overall was significantly decreased one year post-taper compared to pre-taper. Average pain scores were not significantly different pre-taper compared to post-taper. Non-opioid medications generally increased post-taper. Follow-up with mental health and pain management clinical pharmacy specialists decreased post-taper. Tapering to zero MEDD did not lead to a significant increase in pain one-year post-taper; however, approximately 33% of patients were re-started on opioids within one year post-taper. Average MEDD scores decreased post-taper as expected but with effects on mental health being largely unknown, we believe that further study in this area will help us better support patients.

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