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Heart, Lung and Circulation

Opioid Prescription After Cardiac Surgery

Published:October 14, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hlc.2021.08.022

      Objectives

      To characterise short-term and long-term opioid prescription patterns after cardiac surgery.

      Design, Setting and Participants

      We obtained data from a single Australian tertiary hospital from November 2012 to July 2019 and included 2,205 patients who underwent a primary cardiac surgical procedure.

      Main Outcome and Measures

      The primary outcome was the dose of opioids at hospital discharge. Secondary outcomes included factors associated with high dose opioid prescriptions and persistent opioids use after cardiac surgery.

      Results

      Overall, 76.4% of study patients were prescribed opioids at hospital discharge, with a median discharge prescription of 150 mg oral morphine equivalents. Moreover, 52.8% of discharge opioid prescriptions were as slow-release formulations and 60.0% of all discharge prescriptions were for patients who had received no opioids the day before discharge. In the subset of our patients with long-term data, 14.0% were still receiving opioids at 3–12 months after cardiac surgery.

      Conclusions

      In cardiac surgical patients, opioid prescriptions at discharge were common, most were at higher than recommended doses and more than half were slow-release formulations. Such prescription was associated with one in seven patients continuing to receive opioids 3–12 months after surgery.

      Keywords

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