AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 3, 2018

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Postsurgery Prescribing Guideline Could Reduce Opioid Prescriptions by as Much as 40 Percent

Opioid use the last day in the hospital should determine how many opioid pills surgical patients take once they go home

Rising rates of opioid prescriptions have been linked to the opioid epidemic, and a significant number of opioid deaths have been linked to prescriptions written by surgeons.  However, new study results suggest that a more vigilant prescribing guideline for surgeons could reduce by as much as 40 percent the number of opioid pills prescribed after operations, and still meet patients’ pain management needs.  

Lead study author Richard J. Barth Jr., MD, and colleagues at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH, have suggested the guideline.  “We specifically looked at the number of opioid pills that surgical inpatients took the day before discharge from the hospital, and we found that this number was the strongest predictor of how many opioid pills the patients would use after discharge,” Dr. Barth said.

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