April 27, 2018

Addictive opioids still overprescribed after surgery: study

By Karl Oestreich

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 Health Day Logoduring 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:

  • At discharge, 92 percent of patients received an opioid prescription.
  • Of the opioids prescribed, 63 percent went unused.
  • Ninety percent of patients were satisfied with their pain control.
  • Twenty-eight percent said they were prescribed too many opioids, while 8 percent said they were prescribed too few.
  • The median amount of opioids consumed per patient equaled about 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,” 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

Tags: Dr. Elizabeth Habermann, HealthDay, Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, opioids, Uncategorized

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