Hoag Orthopedic Institute study finds 84% of postoperative opioids go unused after common procedure


Irvine, Calif.-based Hoag Orthopedic Institute researchers analyzed 102 simple knee arthroscopy cases and found opioid prescriptions exceed what is necessary for postoperative pain management. Study authors published their results in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

Here are three things to know:

1. Surgeons prescribed 3,765 pills to 102 patients, which is approximately 37 per patient. Of the prescribed pills, only 573.5 were consumed. A total of 3,191.5 pills were unused and potentially available to the public, comprising about 85 percent of all pills.

2. Of the 102 patients who filled a prescription, 29.4 percent did not take any prescription opioids postoperatively. 

3. Overall, 68 percent of patients required a maximum of 13 pills postoperatively for six days. 

"Surgeons should adjust prescribing standards accordingly to limit the amount of prescription opioids available to the community. Furthermore, a comprehensive response to include increased patient screening and monitoring as well as opioid use and disposal education is recommended," the study authors concluded.


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