You don’t need opioid painkillers that much after surgery

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In a new study, researchers found that a prescribing guideline tailored to patients’ specific needs reduced opioid pills prescribed after major surgery.

They found a greater than 90% patient satisfaction rate with pain management and the highest compliance rate to date with appropriate disposal of leftover pills.

The research was conducted by a team at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

In the study, the team focused on a post-surgery opioid prescribing guideline developed by surgeons.

The guideline is based on the number of opioids patients take on the day before they are discharged from the hospital.

It recommends discharging patients with no prescription for opioids if they have taken no opioids on the day before; 15 pills if they have taken one to three pills; and 30 pills if they have had four or more pills.

This guideline was designed to satisfy the pain management needs of about 85% of patients.

The team enrolled 229 patients admitted to the hospital for at least 48 hours after their initial operation.

Upon discharge, patients received prescriptions for the non-opioid medications acetaminophen and ibuprofen, as well as opioids based on the guideline.

The team found that 93% of patients had their post-surgery opioid needs satisfied.

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.

Minimizing opioid use among surgical patients is an important strategy for medicine because studies have found that up to 10% of patients who have undergone surgery, but have not used opioids before, may go on to become chronic opioid users.

One author of the study is Richard J. Barth Jr., MD, FACS.

The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

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