News Releases

null Surgeons and Health Insurer Establish Post-Surgery Opiate Prescription Guidelines to Reduce Number of Unused Pills

Surgeons and Health Insurer Establish Post-Surgery Opiate Prescription Guidelines to Reduce Number of Unused Pills

For Immediate Release:  2019-07-31

Contact:  Peter Kates, (716) 857-4485

Surgeons from 18 upstate New York hospitals and health centers, including ECMC, Kaleida Health (two sites) and United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia, are collaborating with each other and with Univera Healthcare to reduce the number of unnecessary opioid pills prescribed when patients are discharged from the hospital following any of 21 different surgical procedures.
The goal is to lower the risk of opioid misuse by reducing the number of opiate medications prescribed through a collaborative approach that blends the experience of surgeons and their hospitals with the data analytics of Univera. The guidelines established by the surgeons themselves will help to ensure that patients can adequately control their pain in the postoperative period.

“We’re honored to play a convening role with our surgeon partners to help them identify best practices, establish prescribing guidelines and periodically review data we collect for them so they can analyze and share their experiences with one another,” said Richard Vienne, D.O., vice president and chief medical officer at Univera. “This approach helps us achieve our mission, which is to collaborate with doctors in order to improve care for our members and our communities.”

The surgical quality initiative on opioid prescriptions began in 2018 when surgeons and nurses from 18 hospitals got together with the health plan to address the problems of opioid dependency and abuse.

The surgeons reviewed best practices and reached consensus on appropriate opioid levels to prescribe for patients who have undergone any of 21 different procedures, which range from more intensive total knee replacement surgery to incision-less surgery for bladder tumors. 

“The idea was for the surgeons and Univera to develop some baseline data on those surgeries, and for the surgeons to set goals that move discharge prescriptions to the agreed-upon best practice levels over time,” said Vienne. This month marks the beginning of the new measurement period when the health care providers will be able to analyze, compare and demonstrate improvement. 

Participating hospitals with surgeon champions in the program include:

Western New York 

  • Kaleida Health (2 sites)
  • Erie County Medical Center (ECMC)
  • United Memorial Medical Center (Batavia)

Finger Lakes Region

  • Rochester General Hospital
  • Strong Memorial Hospital 
  • Clifton Springs Hospital
  • Highland Hospital
  • Newark-Wayne Community Hospital
  • Unity Hospital

Central New York 

  • Oswego Hospital
  • St. Joseph’s Health Hospital 
  • SUNY Upstate Medical University (2 sites)

Central New York’s Southern Tier 

  • Our Lady of Lourdes Memorial Hospital
  • United Health Services Hospitals (1 site)

Utica/Rome/North Country 

  • Bassett Medical Center
  • Samaritan Medical Center
  • A.O. Fox Hospital
  • St. Elizabeth Medical Center

Surgeries that are part of the program include:

  • Total knee replacement            
  • Lumbar laminectomy                
  • Total hip replacement                
  • Cervical arthroplasty/discectomy/fusion    
  • Lumbar microdiscectomy            
  • Rotator cuff repair                
  • Panniculectomy                
  • Total abdominal hysterectomy        
  • Breast reduction                
  • Laparoscopic cholecystectomy        
  • Laparoscopic vaginal hysterectomy        
  • Inguinal hernia repair                
  • Laparoscopic nephrectomy            
  • Laparoscopic gastric bypass    
  • Laparoscopic gastric sleeve            
  • Carotid endarterectomy            
  • Mitral valve replacement          
  • VNUS closure (varicose vein treatment)             
  • Transurethral Resection of the Bladder Tumor (TURBT)            
  • Endoscopic sinus surgery            
  • Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG)                        


Media Contacts for participating hospitals

ECMC (Buffalo) – Peter Cutler
Tel. 716-898-6505

Kaleida Health (Buffalo) – Michael Hughes
Tel. 716-859-3795

United Memorial Medical Center (Batavia) – Derek DeSol
Tel 585-922-7442

# # #

Univera Healthcare is a nonprofit health plan that serves members across the eight counties of Western New York. The company’s mission is to help people live healthier and more secure lives through access to high-quality, affordable health care. Its products and services include cost-saving prescription drug discounts, wellness tracking tools and access to telemedicine. With nearly 500 employees in Western New York, the company is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse workforce to foster innovation and better serve its members. It encourages employees to engage in their communities by providing paid volunteer time off as one of many benefits. To learn more, visit


IE Browser Modal