Opioids are routinely prescribed drugs to provide relief from pain post surgeries and operations. However, the exact amount needed to be prescribed is not known. Considering the possibility of chronic opioid use and abuse, and the significant number of deaths due to its overdose, it becomes important to know whether their use as pain killers can be minimised to a considerable extent.
A study, published in JAMA Network Open, revealed that a reduction in the number of opioids dispensed for postoperative pain management is safe and attainable.
The researchers studied 1231 patients undergoing gynecologic oncology surgery, under the implementation of an Ultra-restrictive Opioid Prescription Protocol (UROPP), that significantly decreased the number of opioids given to them at discharge.
The mean number of opioid tablets given at discharge after a laparotomy was 43.6 and 12.1 before and after implementation of the UROPP, respectively.
The researchers found that the decrease in the prescribed opioids because of the protocol did not lead to any subsequent changes in postoperative pain scores, complications, or increases in the number of refill requests.
The authors mentioned in the report that the study is crucial in making any progress towards reducing the use of opioid and avoid deaths by misuse or overdose.
As health care professionals, our primary aim is to help our patients and eliminate unnecessary treatments that may do harm. Any medication prescribed must carry benefits that outweigh the risks.