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Surgical opioid-avoidance protocol: a postoperative pharmacological multimodal analgesic intervention in diverse patient populations


Introduction This study evaluated the effect of a surgical opioid-avoidance protocol (SOAP) on postoperative pain scores. The primary goal was to demonstrate that the SOAP was as effective as the pre-existing non-SOAP (without opioid restriction) protocol by measuring postoperative pain in a diverse, opioid-naive patient population undergoing inpatient surgery across multiple surgical services.

Methods This prospective cohort study was divided into SOAP and non-SOAP groups based on surgery date. The non-SOAP group had no opioid restrictions (n=382), while the SOAP group (n=449) used a rigorous, opioid-avoidance order set with patient and staff education regarding multimodal analgesia. A non-inferiority analysis assessed the SOAP impact on postoperative pain scores.

Results Postoperative pain scores in the SOAP group compared with the non-SOAP group were non-inferior (95% CI: −0.58, 0.10; non-inferiority margin=−1). The SOAP group consumed fewer postoperative opioids (median=0.67 (IQR=15) vs 8.17 morphine milliequivalents (MMEs) (IQR=40.33); p<0.01) and had fewer discharge prescription opioids (median=0 (IQR=60) vs 86.4 MMEs (IQR=140.4); p<0.01).

Discussion The SOAP was as effective as the non-SOAP group in postoperative pain scores across a diverse patient population and associated with lower postoperative opioid consumption and discharge prescription opioids.

  • postoperative pain
  • pain management
  • clinical pain
  • analgesics, opioid
  • acute pain

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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