Post-surgery, potential opioid overprescription rampant

Potential overprescription of opioids occurs regularly after surgery among almost all surgical specialties, according to a study published in JAMA Surgery.

Researchers performed a retrospective record review of 18,343 postoperative patients at Boston Medical Center and Lahey Hospital & Medical Center–Burlington (Mass.) Campus, who were discharged after an inpatient admission of at least 24 hours. They collected data from May 22, 2014, to June 30, 2016 at Boston Medical Center and from March 23, 2015, to Sept. 7, 2016, at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center–Burlington Campus.

The researchers defined "potential opioid overprescription" as the number of patients who did not use opioids in the 24 hours prior to hospital discharge, but were still prescribed opioids after discharge.

The study shows that 35.7 percent of the patients used no opioids in the 24 hours prior to hospital discharge, but 45.6 percent were prescribed opioids at hospital discharge, which shows potential overprescription.

Obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedics and plastic surgery had the highest rates of potential overprescription. These services also generally had the highest rates of patients still using opioids at hospital discharge. Pediatric surgery was the only service that did not have any cases of potential overprescription.

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