Opioid prescription rates surprisingly high following C-sections

After analyzing 3 months of records at their facility, researchers at Duke University Medical Center report that cesarean section is one the top surgical procedures for excess prescription of postoperative opioids.

After analyzing 3 months of records at their facility, researchers at Duke University Medical Center report that cesarean section is one the top surgical procedures for excess prescription of postoperative opioids. The team discovered that 56% of patients undergoing joint arthroplasty and 42% of patients undergoing spinal fusion were opioid-naive when admitted to the hospital but opioid-tolerant when discharged, meaning they were taking more than 60 mg of oral morphine equivalents a day. Surgical child deliveries were also included among the top three procedures, with about one-half of these women taking no opioids upon hospitalization but taking more than 60 mg upon discharge. "The amount of opioids that C-section patients are being discharged with is quite remarkable, and it shows how exposure to opioids can be a driving factor in patients becoming addicted," says Neil Ray, MD, assistant professor of anesthesiology. "The next step is seeing exactly how much of these drugs patients are actually using. Many of them are actually only using a couple of pills after being discharged. So they don't need to be given 120 pills; they can be discharged with maybe just 5 or 10."