-- Reminding them that even a sufficient opioid prescription would leave them feeling some pain.
The talking points also offer tips for patients on safely storing and disposing of extra pills.
"So much of this problem can be addressed with solutions that are not complicated ... like telling patients what to do with the medications when they're finished using them," said Julie Gaither, an instructor at Yale School of Medicine. Gaither has researched the opioid epidemic's consequences, though she was not involved with this study.
The Michigan team is pushing its new prescribing guidelines online, in hopes of encouraging other hospitals to adopt similar practices. It also has started implementing the change in other hospitals around the state.
Still, this gets at only a small part of the problem, noted Jonathan Chen, an assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University, who has also researched opioid abuse and addiction. The bulk of opioid prescriptions are written by family doctors and general internists, he said.
"This won't solve every problem -- but nothing ever does," said Chen, who was not involved with this study. "It's one concrete area, and a natural place to start."
(Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.)
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