Study Finds 31% Use No Opioids After Surgery

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At discharge, 92.2% of patients received an opioid prescription; nearly 63% unused
At discharge, 92.2% of patients received an opioid prescription; nearly 63% unused

HealthDay News — Almost 63% of patients did not use opioids after having an elective procedure, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Surgical Association, held from April 19 to 21 in Phoenix.

Cornelius A. Thiels, DO, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues conducted a prospective survey of patients to investigate postoperative opioid use. In total, 2,550 patients undergoing 25 elective procedures were asked to complete a 29-question telephone interview survey 21 to 35 days after being discharged; 1,907 patients completed the survey. 

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The researchers found that 92.2% of patients received discharge opioids. These were converted into oral morphine equivalents (OMEs). After discharge, a median of 44 OMEs were consumed. On average, 62.7% of prescribed opioids were unused. Thirty-one percent of patients used no opioids, and 52.3% required <50 OMEs. The refill rates varied from 1.7 to 71.4% for laparoscopic inguinal hernia and lumbar fusion, respectively. Most patients (90.2%) were satisfied with their post-discharge pain control. More than one-quarter (28.2%) reported being prescribed too many opioids, while 8.3% reported not being prescribed enough. Remaining opioids were disposed of by only 7.5% of patients.

"This research provides a road map for physicians and surgical departments," a coauthor said in a statement. "It shows there are certain surgeries and types of patients who are likely receiving significantly more opioids than needed."

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