Postoperative opioids administered to inpatients with major or orthopaedic surgery: A retrospective cohort study using data from hospital electronic prescribing systems

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Abstract

Background
Opioids administered in hospital during the immediate postoperative period are likely to influence post-surgical outcomes, but inpatient prescribing during the admission is challenging to access. Modified-release(MR) preparations have been especially associated with harm, whilst certain populations such as the elderly or those with renal impairment may be vulnerable to complications. This study aimed to assess postoperative opioid utilisation patterns during hospital stay for people admitted for major/orthopaedic surgery.
Methods
Patients admitted to a teaching hospital in the North-West of England between 2010-2021 for major/orthopaedic surgery with an admission for ≥1 day were included. We examined opioid administrations in the first seven days post-surgery in hospital, and “first 48 hours” were defined as the initial period. Proportions of MR opioids, initial immediate-release(IR) oxycodone and initial morphine milligram equivalents (MME)/day were calculated and summarised by calendar year. We also assessed the proportion of patients prescribed an opioid at discharge.

Results
Among patients admitted for major/orthopaedic surgery, 71.1% of patients administered opioids during their hospitalisation. In total 50,496 patients with 60,167 hospital admissions were evaluated. Between 2010-2017 MR opioids increased from 8.7% to 16.1% and dropped to 11.6% in 2021. Initial use of oxycodone IR among younger patients (≤70 years) rose from 8.3% to 25.5% (2010-2017) and dropped to 17.2% in 2021. The proportion of patients on ≥50MME/day ranged from 13% (2021) to 22.9% (2010). Of the patients administered an opioid in hospital, 26,920 (53.3%) patients were discharged on an opioid.

Conclusions
In patients hospitalised with major/orthopaedic surgery, 4 in 6 patients were administered an opioid. We observed a high frequency of administered MR opioids in adult patients and initial oxycodone IR in the ≤70 age group. Patients prescribed with ≥50MME/day ranged between 13-22.9%. This is the first published study evaluating UK inpatient opioid use, which highlights opportunities for improving safer prescribing in line with latest recommendations.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0305531
JournalPL o S One
Volume19
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2024

Keywords

  • Postoperative
  • opiods
  • administrations
  • inpatients
  • major surgey
  • orthopedic surgery
  • modified-release
  • immediate-release

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