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CMS Seeks Comment on Concurrent Opioid Prescribing Measure

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is soliciting public comment on a proposed hospital measure to calculate the proportion of adult patients with active, concurrent prescriptions for opioids or for an opioid and benzodiazepine at discharge.

In its rationale for the measure, CMS said concurrent prescriptions of opioids or opioids and benzodiazepines put patients at risk of respiratory depression, overdose, and death. An analysis of national prescribing patterns shows that more than half of patients who received an opioid prescription in 2009 had filled another opioid prescription within the previous 30 days, CMS said.

The intent of the measure is to reduce risk by encouraging providers to identify patients with concurrent prescriptions and reduce prescriptions for two or more different opioids or opioids and benzodiazepines concurrently.

CMS is requesting that stakeholders review and provide feedback on this measure by July 31. The agency said it is particularly interested in comments on these topics:

  • the usefulness of the measure to assess and improve the quality of care for patients
  • the appropriateness of the measure to assess hospital performance (including inpatient, outpatient, and emergency department settings) and any unintended consequences of implementing this measure
  • whether data elements related to this measure are available in structured, extractable fields in hospital electronic health records systems
  • whether there are additional denominator exclusions that should be included in this measure
  • whether the prescriber should be held accountable if a patient has concurrent, active prescriptions for opioids or opioids and benzodiazepines prior to intake and maintains that prior regimen after discharge

An archived file of documents, including measure specifications and the call for public comment, is available on the CMS website.

Questions may be directed to Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127.


About the Author

Graziano is senior director of communications for America's Essential Hospitals.

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