Anaesthesiology, St James’s Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
Background and Aims Opioids can form an integral role in the post-operative multi-modal discharge prescribing plan, however, in Ireland the prescribing rates of opioids are increasing yearly and inappropriate opioid prescribing from acute hospitals is unfortunately happening. The international guidance for acute post-operative pain specifies simple analgesia with 5 days of opioids (7 days maximum). Sustained release opioids are not recommended [1 2]. Our project aimed to investigate postoperative prescribing patterns in a large teaching hospital in Ireland. Difficulties in accurate data collection under current technological conditions were also explored.
Methods Local ethics approval was acquired prior to initiation of this project. We performed a retrospective chart review, inclusion criteria were patients over 18 years old who underwent elective or emergency surgery between October to December 2022. Exclusion criteria were patients with extended stays (over three weeks) and specialities with written discharge analgesia protocols.
Results 238 charts were included. Median age was 55, range 18-91. 13% of our prescriptions were in line with guidance wherein all patients on opioids should be prescribed simple analgesia. Of these prescriptions only 7.02% had opioids for 5 days or less. 46.2% of patients received a sustained release opioid. Only 23% received NSAIDs. 5 patients received paracetamol in conjunction with a separate paracetamol-codeine combination.
Conclusions This audit has shown a heavy over-reliance on sustained release opioids. It also shows low levels of compliance with national or international guidance on discharge prescribing. Additionally, data collection is hugely complicated using the current system. Digital infrastructure and centralised databases will be necessary in the future.
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