Data from a study published online in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons suggest that surgical patients’ postdischarge opioid use may be predicted by usage the day prior to discharge. 

The authors reviewed information on 33 opioid naïve inpatients discharged to home following various surgical procedures. They found that, among patients discharged after postoperative day 1, the number of opioid pills used at home was associated with the number taken the day before discharge and patient age, but not type of surgery. The authors write that 85 percent of patients' home opioid requirements would be satisfied using the following guideline: If no opioid pills are taken the day before discharge, no prescription is needed; if 1 to 3 opioid pills are taken the day before discharge, a prescription for 15 opioid pills should be given at discharge; if 4 or more pills are taken the day before discharge, then a prescription for 30 opioid pills should be given at discharge. They estimate that adoption of such guidelines would reduce by 40 percent the number of opioid pills prescribed. Learn more...

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