The risks of long-term opioid use after surgery

direction for long-term, post-surgical use of opioids in the guidelines released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“I think the opioid issue is large and multi-faceted,” he said. “I don’t mean to be critical of the CDC, as frankly, the data for acute care prescribing don’t exist. I think the CDC did a wonderful job of addressing appropriate prescribing and laying out guidelines for where data exist. While I think it will come quickly, there’s just a lack of data currently.”

The researchers concluded that new continual use of opioids post-surgery is frequent, and varies slightly between those with major and minor surgeries. Their results suggest that postsurgical opioid use isn’t due to surgical pain but rather because of how physicians address and/or predict levels of pain in their patients. 

“We hope that we’re helping this issue through our group [OPEN],” Brummett said. “We really believe that there’s an opportunity to look at this time period that [can be] predictable and use it as a preventative model for the opioid epidemic as a way to get people through a predictable episode of surgical care.”