Survey: 1 in 3 patients used no opioids prescribed after surgery

Nearly one-third of patients said they did not use any of the opioids they were prescribed after surgery, and just 8 percent of patients said they got rid of their remaining opioids, according to a survey conducted by Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic.

Mayo Clinic physicians and researchers surveyed 1,907 patients who underwent 25 common surgeries at three academic medical centers.

Here are five survey findings.

1. Nearly all of the patients in the survey (92 percent) received an opioid prescription at discharge. However, the number of opioids patients needed after discharge varied depending on the surgery they underwent.

2. Sixty-three percent of the opioids prescribed went unused.

3. The majority of patients (90 percent) said they were satisfied with their pain control.

4. Over one-fourth of patients (28 percent) felt they were prescribed too many opioids, while 8 percent said they were prescribed too few.

5. The median amount of opioids consumed per patient was approximately six pills of 5-milligram oxycodone.

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

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