Reducing Narcotic Prescriptions Following Lesion or Cyst Excision Surgery

Published on in CHOP News

Stylized child iconImprove Outcomes

Why is this important?

Many children who have a growing mass or cyst under the skin or a changing mole are referred to plastic surgeons for biopsy and removal. In the past, these children may have been prescribed opioid medication to treat pain after surgery. However, we know that most patients do not use all of this opioid medication post-operatively. This leaves unused medication in the household and community available for diversion, abuse and addiction. Patients who take opioid medication after surgery have a significantly higher rate of using opioids chronically.

What we did

The plastic surgeons at CHOP recognize that these relatively minor procedures usually do not result in significant pain for the patient afterward. Many patients are comfortable with over-the-counter pain medication and other non-medication strategies for reducing discomfort. The Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in conjunction with Nurse Management, the Perioperative Complex and the Center for Healthcare Quality & Analytics have worked to decrease opioid prescription rates in patients having these procedures, while continuing to keep them comfortable during recovery.


Postoperative opioid prescription rates were reduced by more than 50 percent, an improvement that has been sustained. Pain scores have remained stable along with the change in practice. Patient satisfaction scores have remained high following adjustments to post-operative pain management protocols.

Graph: Percent Surgeries with Prescriptions

Published: May, 2020

Next Steps

You Might Also Like

Improved Screening for Epstein-Barr Virus Infection

Since March 2016, EBV screening compliance has increased from 60 percent to 95 percent.

Reducing VTE in Patients 12 and Older

 The VTE prevention processes were improved, leading to a significant reduction of VTEs in children.

Reducing Surgical Site Infections

An effort to reduce the amount of bacteria on patients’ skin before surgery helped decrease surgical site infections by nearly 30 percent.