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PURPOSE - We aimed to determine trends in postoperative opiate management among urological patients, identify associations with opiate keeping and foster appropriate opiate disposal after surgery via introduction of an educational handout.
MATERIALS AND METHODS - We retrospectively analyzed opiate practices in 68 patients who had undergone urological surgery. In a separate consecutive cohort of 59 patients we distributed a handout detailing FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved disposal methods. Patient opiate obtainment, use and disposal were assessed via telephone interviews with prescription filling data verified using the Tennessee CSMD (Controlled Substances Monitoring Database). Opiate keeping was defined as possessing any opiates more than 3 weeks after surgery or more than 4 times the duration of the postoperative prescription, whichever was longer.
RESULTS - Opiate keeping was observed in 41 patients (72%) in our initial cohort. Of these patients 68% left the medication unsecured at home. Major barriers to opiate disposal included concern for return of disease specific pain in 44% of patients and unrelated pain in 29%. As assessed on a short test, opiate keepers were less knowledgeable about safe disposal practices compared to nonkeepers (72% vs 85%, p = 0.005). Among opiate keepers there was an improvement in knowledge scores after the intervention (66% to 77%, p = 0.03). When comparing pre-education to post-education, there was no detectable improvement in the rate of opiate keeping (72% vs 68%, p = 0.66) or proper disposal (9% vs 8%, p = 1.0).
CONCLUSIONS - Opiate keeping is common following urological surgery and a major barrier to disposal is concern for the return of disease specific pain. Future interventions aimed at limiting opiate keeping should combine evidence-based prescription practices and targeted patient education.