77% of surgical patients expect opioids, survey finds

Many people still want opioids to manage pain after surgery despite heightened media coverage surrounding addiction risk and the opioid epidemic, according to survey results presented at the American Society of Anesthesiologists' annual meeting in San Francisco.  

Here are three things to know:

1. Researchers surveyed 503 adults who planned to undergo either knee or hip replacements, back surgery, abdominal surgery or ear, nose and throat surgeries at Philadelphia-based Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

2. Every patient expected to receive pain medication of some kind after surgery. Seventy-seven percent expected opioids like morphine, fentanyl and dillaudid. Thirty-seven percent expected acetaminophen, such as Tylenol. Eighteen percent expected a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory , such as Motrin.

3. Most patients thought opioids were the best way to manage postsurgical pain, including 94 percent of those who expected to be prescribed opioids and 67.5 percent of those who did not expect to receive the painkillers.

"Patients often assume they will receive opioids for pain, believing they are superior, and therefore may pressure physicians to prescribe them after surgery," said Nirmal B. Shah, DO, lead author of the first study and an anesthesia resident at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, in a press release. "But research shows opioids often aren't necessarily more effective. Clearly, we need to provide more education to bridge that gap and help patients understand that there are many options for pain relief after surgery, including other pain medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen."

More articles on opioids: 

$800K grant awarded to Rhode Island Hospital, Brown University for 1st peer-based addiction intervention study
Pennsylvania moves one step closer to safe injection site: 4 things to know
Medicaid expansion not linked to higher opioid misuse, study suggests

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