The national supply of intravenous pain medications has been restricted since 2018 due to shortages. In late 2017, the ongoing shortages combined with the increased demand for alternative formulations resulted in interruptions in the supply of medications. The cascading effect of interruptions in supply caused hospitals to implement restrictive measures to extend the availability of these medications. This study aims to evaluate differences in pain control in postoperative cardiac patients due to intravenous opioid shortage at a standalone pediatric hospital.
A retrospective chart review of postoperative patients in the cardiac intensive care unit at Children’s National Hospital was conducted from January to September 2017 and 2018. The objective of this study is to determine if a difference in postoperative pain scores in the period before and during the national intravenous opioid shortage exists, analyzed by differences in Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, Consolability (FLACC) scores.
No differences were found in mean FLACC scores for the 140 patients who were evaluated. Patients in 2017 reported faster decline of pain symptoms compared with those in 2018. No differences in baseline characteristics or secondary outcomes were noted.
Pain management was better controlled immediately postoperatively in 2018 compared with 2017, but the pain was better controlled for the duration of the postoperative period in 2017.

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