In the 24 hours before discharge, women who take less opioid pain medication following a cesarean delivery also use fewer opioids during the four weeks following release, University of Colorado researchers found.
Researchers studied 203 C-section patients and discovered whose who took fewer opioids after returning home had taken 44 percent less opioids in the 24 hours before discharge.
Most C-section patients are prescribed opioids, but the total milligram morphine equivalents prescribed varies. Researchers concluded the amount of opioids taken prior to discharge can be used to inform prescribing practices for pain medication during recovery.
Researchers also found most of the patients did not properly dispose of leftover drugs.
“Leftover opioids fuel nonmedical use,” Karsten Bartels, associate professor of anesthesiology and senior author of the study, said. “While it’s impossible to make a direct link, we can be cautious by avoiding large amounts of unnecessary opioids. Prescribing post-op discharge opioids based on last 24-hour use is a simple, practical tool to inform appropriate prescriptions—indeed, this practice is now being adopted for our patients at CU Anschutz.”
The researchers say further study is needed on how to reduce overprescribing pain medications following a C-section, but opioid addiction following a cesarean is rare.