NQF Launches Opioid Stewardship Initiative 

JUL 05, 2017

CONTACT: Sofia Kosmetatos

NQF Launches Opioid Stewardship Initiative

Washington, DC—The National Quality Forum (NQF) is launching a new initiative to address the nation’s escalating opioid epidemic. NQF’s National Quality Partners (NQP) will bring together experts from NQF’s membership and from across the nation to develop a practical resource to help healthcare practitioners better manage their patients’ pain while reducing the risk of opioid addiction.

NQP will model the new Opioid Stewardship Action Team after other successful efforts to address national healthcare challenges. Last year, NQP issued a playbook to help hospitals strengthen antibiotic stewardship programs and released an issue brief to help providers, communities, and policymakers ensure that the preferences and values of individuals with advanced illness are at the center of their care decisions. Physicians, nurses, consumers, and other Action Team members, will build on current public- and private-sector efforts to address the opioid epidemic, focusing on improving clinicians’ prescribing practices.

“As an emergency medicine doctor, I’ve seen first-hand the devastating effects of opioid misuse on our nation’s health, and it is imperative that we all work together to address it,” said Shantanu Agrawal, MD, NQF’s president and CEO. “This new initiative will provide those on the frontlines with essential guidance for better, safer management of patients’ pain.”

Agrawal was an architect of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Opioid Misuse Strategy (PDF) issued in early 2017.  

In addition to improving clinicians’ prescribing practices, the Action Team will identify strategies and tactics for managing care of individuals who are at high risk of becoming dependent on opioids. The Action Team will also advance quality measures that support prescribers. In 2017, NQF endorsed its first measures that address prescribing opioids at high dosage or from multiple providers among patients without cancer. The NQP opioid stewardship playbook will be available in March 2018.

The number of opioid prescriptions written each year has quadrupled in less than two decades, without a resulting change in pain reported by Americans. Nearly 2 million people suffer from prescription opioid disorder (POD), with the highest and fastest-growing rates of diagnoses of POD among Medicare beneficiaries (more than 6 per 1,000) and Medicaid beneficiaries (8.7 per 1,000). 

For more information about joining or supporting NQF’s Opioid Stewardship Action Team, contact National Quality Partners


The National Quality Forum leads national collaboration to improve health and healthcare quality through measurement. Learn more at www.qualityforum.org.