Clinical Edge

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Opioid Dispensing After Vaginal Delivery

Obstet Gynecol; ePub 2018 Jul 10; Prabhu, et al

More than one-fourth of women undergoing vaginal delivery in the US are prescribed opioids, a recent study found. The nationwide retrospective cohort study included commercially insured beneficiaries who underwent vaginal delivery between 2003 and 2015 and who were opioid-naïve for 12 weeks before the delivery admission. Researchers assessed the proportion of women dispensed an oral opioid within 1 week of discharge, the associated median oral morphine milligram equivalent dose dispensed, and the frequency of opioid refills during the 6 weeks after discharge. They found:

  • Among 1,35,244 women undergoing vaginal delivery, 28.5% were dispensed an opioid within 1 week of discharge.
  • The most commonly dispensed opioids were hydrocodone (44.7%), oxycodone (34.6%), and codeine (13.1%).
  • The median dose of opioids dispensed was 150 morphine milligram equivalents, equivalent to 20 tablets of 5 mg oxycodone.
  • 8.5% of women filled ≥1 additional opioid prescriptions 6 weeks after discharge.


Prabhu M, Garry EM, Hernandez-Diaz S, MacDonald SC, Huybrechts KF, Bateman BT. Frequency of opioid dispensing after vaginal delivery. [Published online ahead of print July 10, 2018]. Obstet Gynecol. doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000002741.