What Happens To The 25% Leftover Opioid Prescriptions?
Orthopedics This Week reports on the findings of an HSS study published in The Bone and Joint Journal which evaluated opioid consumption and disposal patterns following a total knee arthroplasty (TKA).
Lead study author Ajay Premkumar, MD, MPH, orthopedic resident at HSS, and his colleagues, enrolled 103 patients for prospective analysis, and found that opioid consumption varied significantly. On average, the 103 enrolled patients consumed 72 opioid tablets. Of those patients, nearly two-thirds (64.1 percent) stopped taking opioids within six weeks of surgery. The average length of time patients chose to take their opioids was 22.3 days. For those who stopped taking opioids, 25.7 percent had leftover pills.
Dr. Premkumar cited, “This prospectively collected data provides an initial benchmark for general opioid consumption after uncomplicated primary unilateral TKA in opioid-naive patients. Many patients are prescribed more opioids than they require, and leftover medication is infrequently disposed of appropriately, which may increase the risk for illicit diversion. In addition, our data supports that if prescribed more opioids, patients are likely to consume more opioids in the acute postoperative period with similar self-reported pain levels.”
Dr. Premkumar concluded, “These results may be used to help establish guidelines for opioid reduction, inform patient expectations and form the initial basis for data-driven prescribing guidelines. Further research and initiatives will likely further reduce opioid requirements and improve pain control in the early postoperative period following total knee arthroplasty and other common orthopedic procedures.”
Read the full text article at ryortho.com.