As Minnesota health care providers begin to receive updated opioid prescribing reports in the coming days, data from the Department of Human Services show that prescribing practices are becoming safer, with providers writing fewer prescriptions for opioids and for lower doses when they do prescribe the drugs for pain management.
Almost 16,000 providers serving patients in the Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare programs will receive individualized reports that compare their opioid prescribing practices to those of anonymous peers and recommended thresholds. Trends tracked by DHS are encouraging, with the number of prescriptions over recommended doses falling in the past several years.
The most dramatic decrease occurred in the number of patients simultaneously prescribed chronic opioid therapy and benzodiazepines, a potentially lethal combination. In 2016, 2,541 public health care program enrollees had prescriptions for both drugs at the same time. That number dropped 57% to 1,091 enrollees in a one-year period ending in September. Read the full DHS report.