(HealthDay News) — A patient-centered opioid discharge prescription guideline satisfies 93% of patients undergoing surgery, according to a research letter published online in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Eleah D. Porter, MD, from the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and colleagues prospectively enrolled 229 patients admitted for 48 hours or longer after elective general, colorectal, urologic, gynecologic, or thoracic surgery. Based on their usage the day before discharge, patients received a prescription of both nonopioid analgesics and opioids at discharge. If no opioid refills were obtained, patients’ opioid pain medication needs were considered to be satisfied.

The researchers found that 93% of the patients were satisfied with the opioid guideline. In lower opioid usage groups, satisfaction was significantly higher: 99% for those receiving 0 oral morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs), 90% for those receiving 1 to 29 MMEs, and 82% for those receiving 30 MMEs or greater. Nonopioid analgesics were used by 95% of the patients. Overall, 60% of patients had leftover pills; 83% used a US Food and Drug Administration-compliant method for disposal, with 51% using the convenient drop box. Only 7% of the prescribed pills were kept by patients.

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“This finding means that this guideline can be used for a wide variety of operations to guide surgeons on how many opioids to prescribe when sending patients home after surgery,” a coauthor said in a statement.


Porter ED, Bessen SY, Molloy IB, et al. Guidelines for Patient-Centered Opioid Prescribing and Optimal FDA-Compliant Disposal of Excess Pills after Inpatient Operation: Prospective Clinical Trial. J Am Coll Surg.