From the Journals

IBD: Inpatient opioids linked with outpatient use



Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) who receive opioids while hospitalized are three times as likely to be prescribed opioids after discharge, based on a retrospective analysis of more than 800 patients.

Awareness of this dose-dependent relationship and IBD-related risks of opioid use should encourage physicians to consider alternative analgesics, according to lead author Rahul S. Dalal, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, and colleagues.

“Recent evidence has demonstrated that opioid use is associated with severe infections and increased mortality among IBD patients,” the investigators wrote in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. “Despite these concerns, opioids are commonly prescribed to IBD patients in the outpatient setting and to as many as 70% of IBD patients who are hospitalized.”

To look for a possible relationship between inpatient and outpatient opioid use, the investigators reviewed electronic medical records of 862 IBD patients who were treated at three urban hospitals in the University of Pennsylvania Health System. The primary outcome was opioid prescription within 12 months of discharge, including prescriptions at time of hospital dismissal.

During hospitalization, about two-thirds (67.6%) of patients received intravenous opioids. Of the total population, slightly more than half (54.6%) received intravenous hydromorphone and about one-quarter (25.9%) received intravenous morphine. Following discharge, almost half of the population (44.7%) was prescribed opioids, and about 3 out of 4 patients (77.9%) received an additional opioid prescription within the same year.

After accounting for confounders such as IBD severity, preadmission opioid use, pain scores, and psychiatric conditions, data analysis showed that inpatients who received intravenous opioids had a threefold (odds ratio [OR], 3.3) increased likelihood of receiving postdischarge opioid prescription, compared with patients who received no opioids while hospitalized. This association was stronger among those who had IBD flares (OR, 5.4). Furthermore, intravenous dose was positively correlated with postdischarge opioid prescription.

Avoiding intravenous opioids had no impact on the relationship between inpatient and outpatient opioid use. Among inpatients who received only oral or transdermal opioids, a similarly increased likelihood of postdischarge opioid prescription was observed (OR, 4.2), although this was a small cohort (n = 67).

Compared with other physicians, gastroenterologists were the least likely to prescribe opioids. Considering that gastroenterologists were also most likely aware of IBD-related risks of opioid use, the investigators concluded that more interdisciplinary communication and education are needed.

“Alternative analgesics such as acetaminophen, dicyclomine, hyoscyamine, and celecoxib could be advised, as many of these therapies have been deemed relatively safe and effective in this population,” they wrote.The investigators disclosed relationships with Abbott, Gilead, Romark, and others.

SOURCE: Dalal RS et al. Clin Gastro Hepatol. 2019 Dec 27. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2019.12.024.

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