Patients in the United States are prescribed disproportionally higher amounts of opioids after surgery regardless of pain severity, according to an International Patterns of Opioid Prescribing Workgroup study.
Researchers examined data from 2,024 patients in eight countries who had an inguinal herniorrhaphy, cholecystectomy, or appendectomy between October 2016 and March 2017. Patients were categorized by pain – no pain, mild pain, moderate pain, and severe pain – and the number of opioid prescriptions were calculated for each group.
In the United States, the number of opioid prescriptions was similar in all four pain severity groups, whereas globally, prescriptions were incrementally higher as the pain severity progressed.
In the United States, 83 percent of patients without pain were prescribed opioids, compared to only 8.7 percent worldwide.
The researchers concluded that additional efforts need to be made to tailoring opioid prescriptions to patients’ needs.
The purpose of the study was to assess the relationship between perceived pain severity and the amount of opioids prescribed to surgery patients at discharge. It was conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital and analyzed the data from the International Patterns of Opioid Prescribing multicenter study.
The study was published in the December issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.