Postsurgical Patients May Need 40% Fewer Opiate Pills, According to Proposed New Guidelines

December 6, 2017 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​Stringent prescribing guidelines could greatly reduce opioid use for patients discharged from the hospital after surgery, says a forthcoming study in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. Researchers found that a surgical patient's postdischarge opioid use could be predicted by how many opioid pills the patient required the day before discharge. Based on these usage findings, the authors formulated prescribing guidelines as follows: If the patient did not require opioids the day before discharge, then a prescription for opioids on discharge is not needed. If on the day before discharge the patient took one to three pills, then the prescription should be for 15 pills; if the patient took four or more pills, then the prescription should be for 30 pills.

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