Patient Opioid Requirements Are Often Far Less Than Their Discharge Prescription After Orthopaedic Surgery: the Results of a Prospective Multicenter Survey

Cody C. Wyles, Cornelius A. Thiels, Mario Hevesi, Daniel S. Ubl, Halena M. Gazelka, Norman S. Turner, Robert T. Trousdale, Mark W. Pagnano, Tad M. Mabry, Elizabeth B. Habermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Evidence-based, procedure-specific guidelines for opioid prescribing after orthopaedic surgery are urgently needed to standardize care and minimize excess opioids. METHODS: We developed a prospective, multicenter survey study conducted from March 2017 to January 2018 including 7 common elective orthopaedic surgical procedures (total knee arthroplasty, total hip arthroplasty, lumbar fusion, lumbar laminectomy, rotator cuff repair, arthroscopic meniscectomy, and carpal tunnel release). Phone surveys were conducted between 21 and 35 days postoperatively. We aimed to document both the amount and length of time patients consumed opioid medications to inform further improvements in opioid management and prescribing. RESULTS: Among the 919 orthopaedic patients who completed the survey, 94.3% received opioids at discharge with a median of 388 oral morphine equivalents (OMEs) (interquartile range [IQR] 225 to 675). A median of 128 (IQR 23 to 360) OME were consumed with 77% of patients having leftover opioids. Sixty percent of prescribed opioids were unused; 18.2% of patients used no opioids, and 34.7% required <50 OME. In comparison to departmental guidelines, 50.2% of patients consumed <50% of the recommended prescription maximum per procedure. DISCUSSION: Most patients used far fewer opioids after orthopaedic surgery than prescribed. These data have informed further improvement of our opioid prescription guidelines to more precisely align with anticipated procedure- and patient-specific requirements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e345-e353
JournalThe Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Volume29
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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