NQF Statement on Endorsement of Opioid Patient Safety Measures 

MAY 10, 2017

CONTACT: Sofia Kosmetatos

NQF Statement on Endorsement of Opioid Patient Safety Measures

“NQF’s recent endorsement of 11 quality measures of patient safety includes three measures developed by the Pharmacy Quality Alliance (PQA) to address the use of opioids at high dosage or from multiple providers, with appropriate exclusions, including cancer patients. These are the first NQF-endorsed measures intended to address the nation’s devastating—and growing—opioid epidemic. Each was thoughtfully considered and, ultimately, recommended for endorsement by NQF’s Patient Safety Standing Committee.

Opioid drugs can benefit many patients with serious pain-related conditions. However, these drugs can cause serious harm when not used properly—harms that I saw firsthand as an emergency department physician. The PQA measures, NQF #2940, #2950, and #2951, were endorsed because evidence shows that patient populations taking high opioid doses for prolonged periods are often characterized by high rates of psychiatric and substance abuse disorders, frequently do not receive care consistent with clinical guidelines, and have higher death rates. Studies also have shown that people who see multiple prescribers or use multiple pharmacies are more likely to die of drug overdoses.

Valid, reliable measures are essential to quality improvement to address this epidemic and to make our nation’s healthcare safe and effective.”

Shantanu Agrawal, MD, MPhil
President and CEO
National Quality Forum