by Dennis Thompson
Doctors continue to prescribe far too many opioid painkillers to patients following surgery, a new study indicates. In fact, one of every three patients prescribed an opioid, such as Oxycontin, didn't take a single pill during their recuperation, said lead researcher Elizabeth Habermann. She is scientific director for surgical outcomes at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "Their entire prescription amount went unused," Habermann said. "That showed us there's an opportunity to prescribe a certain select group of patients zero opioids, and they may be able to take care of their pain with acetaminophen [Tylenol] or NSAIDs alone."
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Context: Nearly a third of patients responding to a Mayo Clinic survey said they used none of the opioids they were prescribed after surgery. The research findings, presented Thursday, April 19 at the American Surgical Association annual meeting, also show that only about 8 percent of patients disposed of their remaining opioids.
The researchers also found that:
“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,” says Elizabeth Habermann, Ph.D., who is the senior author. Dr. Habermann is the Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Scientific Director for Surgical Outcomes. For information about the study can be found on Mayo Clinic News Network.
Contact: Adam Harringa