DHMC study: Over-the-counter drugs can control most pain

LEBANON, N.H. (WCAX) New guidelines from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center about painkiller prescriptions after surgery.

It's the first time specific prescription guidelines have been proposed for post-operation patients. The goal is to educate doctors who are overprescribing drugs, a problem that has been linked to the current opioid epidemic.

A Dartmouth surgeon looked at more than 300 patients who had six different types of surgeries. And the study found over-the-counter painkillers rather than opioids could control 85 percent of post-surgical pain.

"I don't necessarily feel like legislation or penalties or things like this have to be imposed. Doctors are very data driven and if we give them good data, they are going to adjust their practices, I think," said Dr. Richard Barth of Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

The guidelines are:
No opioid pills for patients who took no opioids the day before they left the hospital.
Fifteen pills for those who took one to three pills the day before.
Thirty pills for those who took four or more pills on their last day.