Protecting Patients From Post-Surgery Opioid Addiction

“Standard Operating Procedure” Turns Surgical Patients into Drug Addicts

(Science Daily) Greater coordination is needed between surgeons and physicians about the prescription of pain-relieving opioid drugs following surgery to help identify patients who are at risk of becoming opioid addicts.

This is according to Michael Klueh of the University of Michigan in the US who led a retrospective review of medical specialty areas to find out which are most likely to prescribe opioids for the first time to postoperative patients.

Exposure to opioids is ubiquitous in surgical care in the US, and over-prescription is a common occurrence following operations. This has its drawbacks, as the long-term use of such medication can lead to addiction.

A recent study showed that up to seven percent of all patients who were prescribed such painkillers following surgery develop a persistent habit.

“Millions of Americans each year are continuing opioid use beyond the normal recovery period of 90 days after a surgical procedure,” explains Klueh.

Klueh and his colleagues analyzed a national dataset of insurance claims filed by patients between 18 and 64 years old who had undergone surgical procedures between 2008 and 2014.

All had received opioid drugs as a form of pain relief for the first time in their lives.

In all, the researchers identified 5,276 patients who had developed persistent drug habits and continued filing opioid prescriptions three to six months after their operations had taken place — well past the stage that the use of such medication is deemed normal. Read the full story at Science Daily. 

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