Introduction Confronted with the opioid epidemic, surgeons must play a larger role to reduce risk of opioid abuse while managing acute pain. Having a better understanding of the beliefs and practices of trauma and acute care surgeons regarding discharge pain management may offer potential targets for interventions beyond fixed legal mandates. Methods An Institutional Review Board-approved electronic survey was sent to trauma and acute care surgeons who are members of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, and trauma and acute care surgeons and nurse practitioners at a Level 1 trauma center in February 2018. The survey included four case-based scenarios and questions about discharge prescription practices and beliefs. Results Of 66 respondents, most (88.1%) were at academic institutions. Mean number of opioid tablets prescribed was 20-30 (range 5-90), with the fewest tablets prescribed for elective laparoscopic cholecystectomy and the most for rib fractures. Few prescribed both opioid and non-opioid medications (22.4% to 31.4 %). Most would not change the number/strength of medications (69.2%), dose (53.9%), or number of tablets of opioids (83.1%) prescribed if patients used opioids regularly prior to their operation. The most common factors that made providers more likely to prescribe opioids were high inpatient opioid use (32.4%), history of opioid use/abuse (24.5%), and if the patient lives far from the hospital (12.9%). Most providers in practice >5 years reported a decrease in opioids (71.9%) prescribed at discharge. Conclusion Trauma and acute care surgeons and nurse practitioners reported decreasing the number/amount of opioids prescribed over time. Patients with high opioid use in the hospital, history of opioid use/abuse, or who live far from the provider may be prescribed more opioids at discharge. Level of evidence Level IV.
- opioid dependence
- pain management
- trauma systems and outcomes
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine