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Study finds three days of opioids post-discharge following surgery effective


A study of post-operative patients found that pain management involving three days or less of post-surgery opioid prescriptions was effective at managing pain and outcomes, according to a report published Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. 

Nineteen cancer treatment institutions, mostly in Buffalo, New York, helped craft the study involving 4068 surgical patients, 82% of whom had cancer. The study sought to better understand whether postoperative pain can be managed “appropriately” after hospital discharge with three or fewer days of an opioid supply.

The prescriptions, of which 95% of participants adhered, “led to a significant reduction in opioids dispensed postoperatively and was associated with significantly decreased conversion to chronic opioid use in postsurgical patients,” according to the study.

Patients also received “standardized patient education” on opioid use following surgeries, which took place between Aug. 1, 2018, and July 31, 2019.

Dubbed a “Restrictive Opioid Prescription Protocol,” researchers wrote that the findings “could lead to a new standard of care for managing postsurgical pain after hospital discharge.”

The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, and the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation.