The impact of the Florida law HB21 on opioid prescribing patterns after spine surgery

N Am Spine Soc J. 2023 Feb 17:14:100202. doi: 10.1016/j.xnsj.2023.100202. eCollection 2023 Jun.


Background: The opioid epidemic represents a major public health issue in the United States and has led to significant morbidity and mortality. On July 1 2018, Florida implemented state-law House Bill 21 (HB21), limiting opioid prescriptions to a 3-day supply for acute pain or 7 days if an exception is documented. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effects of HB21 on opioid prescribing patterns after spine surgery.

Methods: Patients 18 years and older who underwent spine surgery between January 2017 and January 2021 were eligible for inclusion. Information including demographics, pills, days, and morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs) was obtained via retrospective chart review using the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and Epic Chart Review. Student's t tests and Fisher's exact tests were used for comparison of continuous variables. Multiple logistic regression was utilized to determine which variables were associated with postoperative opioid prescriptions. p<.05 was considered significant.

Results: We reviewed 114 patients who underwent spine surgery from January 2017 to July 2018 and 264 patients from July 2018 to January 21. There were no significant differences between the groups in age, sex, ethnicity, body mass index, number of levels fused, or preoperative opioid use. The average number of MMEs, pills prescribed and days in the first postoperative prescription decreased significantly after HB21. Multiple logistic regression revealed that the variable most predictive of MMEs and number of pills in the first postoperative prescription was postlaw status (p=.002, p=.50).

Conclusions: Florida law HB21 was successful in decreasing postoperative opioid prescriptions after spine surgery, however, the need for additional progress remains. Legislation should be combined with multimodal pain regimens, as well as patient and provider education in order to further decrease postoperative opioid requirements. Future studies should include a larger number of patients treated by multiple spine surgeons across multiple institutions in order to further evaluate the effects of HB21 on postoperative opioid prescriptions.

Keywords: Florida; House Bill 21; Legislation; Opioid epidemic; Opioids; Spine surgery.