Opioids, Spring 2019

Cut the Count: A Campaign to Reduce Post-Surgery Opioid Use

Cut The Count
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Ontario Surgical Quality Improvement Network hospitals have embarked on a quality improvement campaign to Cut the Count, reducing the number of opioids prescribed to discharged surgical patients while providing alternative pain management options.


Surgeons at 47 hospital sites across the province are participating in the campaign which launched April 1 and runs until March 31, 2020. Although the campaign – supported by Health Quality Ontario – is aimed at the hospital-based surgical community, Cut the Count may impact community pharmacy professionals. Surgery patients discharged from local hospitals may request support related to their pain medications, including opioids.

A list of participating hospitals can be found in this Health Quality Ontario document.

To Cut the Count, surgeons will select at least one surgical procedure and make one or more of the following three changes:

  • Adopt a common prescribing protocol
  • Use multimodal pain management (both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic)
  • Talk to their patients about safe opioid use and other treatment options.

Materials, including a patient guide, are available to complement clinical judgment on pain management. Ongoing collaboration with patients’ surgeons may also be required.


Recent evidence, including the research paper “Standardization of Outpatient Procedure (STOP) Narcotics: A Prospective Non-Inferiority Study to Reduce Opioid Use in Outpatient General Surgical Procedures” from London Health Sciences Centre, supports the campaign’s approach both in terms of effective pain management and patient experience.

For additional information, contact Health Quality Ontario at PainQI@hqontario.ca.

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