NEW ORLEANS – U.S. clinicians prescribe opioid tablets to postsurgical patients too often and at too high a pill count, according to results from two independent studies that examined prescribing patterns and opioid use in patients following gynecologic surgery.
In addition, “setting preoperative expectations about pain management led to increased compliance at discharge,” said Dr. Mark, a gynecologic oncologist at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
Findings from the second study, of 122 women who underwent gynecologic surgery at Women and Infants Hospital in Providence, R.I., showed that 32% did not use any opioids for pain following hospital discharge, and that opioid use during hospitalization was a significant predictor of postdischarge opioid needs. This finding provided a way to devise a new prescribing guide for postsurgical patients based on their opioid use while hospitalized, said, a gynecologic oncologist at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.
“No question, we are overprescribing,” Dr. Dowdy said, and described a program he and his colleagues at Mayo recently put in place that capped routine opioid pill prescriptions following various surgeries based on historic patient needs. For example, most laparotomy patients receive a prescription for 10 opioid doses on discharge. Based on the first 6 months of this program, it’s on track to cut the annual number of opioid tablets prescribed to postsurgical patients at Mayo by 35,000 for all gynecologic surgeries and by 1.5 million tablets for all Mayo surgical subspecialties, he said.