Opioids are highly addictive medications and otolaryngologists have a responsibility to practice opioid stewardship. We investigated postoperative opioid prescribing patterns among resident and attending physicians as an educational platform to underscore the importance of conscientious opioid prescribing.
This quality improvement study was designed as a cross-sectional electronic survey. Residents and attending clinical faculty members at a single academic institution were queried from February through April 2020. An electronic survey was distributed to capture postoperative opioid prescribing patterns after common procedures. At the conclusion of the study, results were sent to all faculty and residents.
A total of 29 attending otolaryngologists and 22 residents completed the survey. Resident physicians prescribed on average fewer postoperative opioid pills than attendings. Among attendings, the largest number of opioids were prescribed following tonsillectomy (dose varied by patient age), neck dissection (12.6 pills), brow lift (13.3 pills), facelift (13.3 pills), and open reduction of facial trauma (10.7 pills). For residents, surgeries with the most postoperatively prescribed opioids were for tonsillectomy (varied by patient age), neck dissection (13.4 pills), open reduction of facial trauma (10.5 pills), parotidectomy (10.0 pills), and thyroid/parathyroidectomy (9.0 pills). The largest volume of postoperative opioids for both groups was prescribed following tonsillectomy. Attendings prescribed significantly more opioids after facelift and brow lift than did residents (p = 0.01 and p = 0.003, respectively).
There was good concordance between resident and attending prescribers. Improvement in opioid prescribing and pain management should be an essential component of otolaryngology residency education and attending continuing medical education.

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