Opioid prescriptions after surgery are major contributors to the opioid abuse epidemic. Several measures designed to limit opioid prescriptions at discharge have been evaluated. We conducted a comprehensive review and meta-analysis of the effectiveness of various types of interventions in reducing opioid prescriptions after urological surgery.
A systematic review including MEDLINE®, Web of Science™ and Cochrane databases was conducted to identify studies on opioid prescriptions and urological surgery. Twenty-two studies met the inclusion criteria, of which 19 were used for quantitative analysis for reduction in opioid prescriptions. Additional outcomes included opioid consumption and satisfaction with analgesia.
Of the 8,318 patients, 53% were in the pre- and 47% in the post-intervention cohort. Overall mean reduction/patient in prescribed opioids was -67.59 (95% CI 54.23 to 80.94) morphine milligram equivalents (MME). Direct interventions, implemented by providers within their local department or hospital, were more effective in reducing prescribed opioids compared to indirect, or systemic, interventions, at -76.68 MME (95% CI 60.04 to -93.31) vs -46.72 MME (95% CI 24.20 to -69.23; p=0.04). Opioid consumption significantly decreased post-intervention with a mean reduction of -18.31 MME (95% CI 7.89 to 28.72). Patient satisfaction with analgesia remained unchanged between the pre- and post-intervention groups.
Successful reduction in opioid prescriptions, without compromising pain control, can be achieved through a variety of interventions. Direct interventions appear to have a greater impact than indirect interventions in reducing opioid prescriptions. Despite the reduction, unused, excess prescription opioids were still noted, which provides an opportunity for further control on opioid prescriptions.