Philadelphia releases new guidelines for post-op prescriptions, signs green energy deal

Philadelphia releases new guidelines for post-op prescriptions, signs green energy deal

Author: Marco Cerino/Wednesday, December 19, 2018/Categories: Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Health Department and Mayor Jim Kenney (D) announced Wednesday new guidelines for doctors in prescribing pain medications following operations.

Created with doctors from the city’s major hospitals and health systems, they recommend significantly less doses of opioid painkillers to manage patients recovering from surgery.

Over prescribing opioid painkillers is a main cause for the nation’s current misuse epidemic. In Philadelphia, the city has invested significant resources in helping those afflicted and cleaning up encampments of heroin users in Kensington and Fair Hill.

The new guidelines recommend four to nine days worth of pain pills for major procedures like open spinal surgery and none for minor ones, suggesting a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen or other treatments instead.

Kenney related the story of not using most of the oxycodone he was prescribed following gall bladder surgery and how those unused pills could have fueled addiction. He noted while the guidelines are optional, he hopes surgeons will work with the Health Department to help patients avoid the pratfalls of opioid dependence.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say the future of our city depends a large part on them,” he said.

Health Commissioner, Thomas Farley, spoke to the scope of opioid dependency in Philadelphia. A recent survey saw one in seven adults in the city currently take these medicines, while one in three had done so in the past six months.

While prescriptions written by local doctors are down 25 percent over the past 18 months, the numbers are still very high compared to last decade.

Like Kenney, Farley mentioned most patients don’t take all the dosages prescribed, if at all. “If surgeons prescribe less than what they prescribe now, the patients take even less,” he said. “To a certain extent, the cue for how much people should take is given by how many pills their operating physician subscribes for them.”

Dr. Scott Cowan from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital spoke on behalf of the doctors about these guidelines. He stated they combined the most reliable scientific background with the most protection and advocacy for patients.

He also mentioned these guidelines focus on discharge instructions and won’t affect medicines administered during and immediately after surgeries.

Kenney spoke of taking on the opioid crisis “at all angles.” One measure he supports, which calls for the Health Department to register all the pharmaceutical sales representatives operating in the city and creating new regulations like banning gifts, has stalled in City Council due to industry backlash.

Kenney mentioned that bill required some fine tuning to address concerns about potential lost revenue from conventions. The bill was amended to exclude such interactions at the many trade shows hosted at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Mayor signs green energy deal

Tuesday, Kenney signed a 20-year purchase agreement with the Adams Solar project slated to open in 2020 to provide Philadelphia with renewable energy.

The plan includes economic opportunities for local businesses and apprentices trained in Philadelphia schools for the planned largest solar plant in the Commonwealth. It passed through City Council this fall.

“This project not only helps Philadelphia demonstrate leadership on climate action, but it also makes good economic sense and helps to boost regional job growth in the renewable energy sector,” Kenney said in a statement. “We thank Councilwoman Reynolds Brown, the Philadelphia Energy Authority, and Community Energy, Inc. for their partnership in creating this win-win deal for Philadelphians.”

Marco Cerino a staff writer for The PLS Reporter based in Philadelphia. Have a question, comment or tip? Email him at