Because many patients are first exposed to opioids after general surgery procedures, surgical stewardship for the use of opioids is critical in addressing the opioid crisis. We developed a multi-component opioid reduction program to minimize the use of opioids after surgery. Our objectives were to assess patient exposure to the intervention and to investigate the association with postoperative use and disposal of opioids.
We implemented a multi-component intervention, including patient education, the settings of expectations, the education of the providers, and an in-clinic disposal box in our large, academic, general surgery clinic. From April to December 2018, patients were surveyed by phone 30 to 60 days after their operation regarding their experience with postoperative pain management. The association between patient education and preparedness to manage pain was assessed using χ tests. Education, preparedness, and clinical factors were evaluated for association with quantity of pills used using ANOVA and multivariable linear regression.
Of the 389 eligible patients, 112 responded to the survey (28.8%). Patients receiving both pre and postoperative education were more likely to feel prepared to manage pain than those who only received the education pre or postoperatively (91% vs 68%, P = .01). Patients who felt prepared to manage their pain used 9.1 fewer pills on average than those who did not (P = .01). Fourteen patients (24%) with excess pills disposed of them. Preoperative education was associated with disposal of excess pills (30% vs 0%, P < .05).
Exposure to clinic-based interventions, particularly preoperatively, can increase patient preparedness to manage postoperative pain and decrease the quantity of opioids used. Additional strategies are needed to increase appropriate disposal of unused opioids.

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