Eliminating analgesic meperidine use with a supported formulary restriction.

Meperidine is a commonly used analgesic despite unique disadvantages compared with other opioid analgesics. The objective of this study was to measure the effects of a meperidine formulary restriction on the prescribing of parenteral opioid analgesics.


The study was performed at a single 750-bed tertiary care teaching hospital in Rochester, NY. The formulary restriction limited meperidine to use exclusively for rigors or procedural sedation and was supported by an educational initiative and a computerized order entry system. Independent computerized pharmacy records were used to capture all doses of parenteral morphine, meperidine, and hydromorphone administered to patients in the emergency department or on a medical or surgical inpatient floor during data-collection periods. Baseline data were collected during two 3-day periods before the formulary restriction; then comparison data were collected during three 3-day periods over 15 months after the formulary restriction.


The number of administered doses of meperidine per day decreased from 37.5 (20.8% of parenteral opioid doses before the restriction) to 0.22 (0.1% of parenteral opioid doses, P = .001). The total number of opioid doses and morphine doses given did not change, whereas the number of hydromorphone doses increased significantly postrestriction, from 16.0 doses per day (8.9% of total) to 59.7 doses per day (29.5%) (P = .009).


Meperidine formulary restriction, supported by an educational program and computerized order entry, effectively eliminated analgesic meperidine use. Hydromorphone use increased proportionately to offset the decreased use of meperidine.


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O'Connor AB
Lang VJ
Quill TE