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Surgeons Are Closer to Predicting Which Patients Need Post-Surgery Opioids—and Which Ones Don’t

Penn LDI

From Penn LDI:

Opioids are routinely prescribed to patients after a surgery—whether they use them or not. A new study, led by LDI Senior Fellow Anish Agarwal will help tailor prescribing so patients get the right amount of opioid medications; not too little and not too much. 

Unused opioids are a particular problem. Opioid misuse can start when extra tablets end up with a friend, or relative, or in the community. Agarwal and colleagues are working on individualizing decision-making about post-surgery opioids so they more closely match patients’ pain-management needs.

About five years ago, Agarwal and colleagues created a system that automatically sends text messages to Penn Medicine patients for three weeks after surgery, asking about their pain level and opioid use. The system prospectively collects patient-reported data that Agarwal and his team investigate to inform clinical care. In a 2021 study, they found that 61% of post-surgery opioid tablets were not used.  

Read more at Penn LDI.