An Educational Intervention Reduces Opioids Prescribed Following General Surgery Procedures

Phillip M. Kemp Bohan, Robert C. Chick, Morgan E. Wall, Diane F. Hale, Ching Wei D. Tzeng, George E. Peoples, Timothy J. Vreeland, G. Travis Clifton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Variability exists in opioid prescribing practices among surgeons, frequently resulting in the prescription of excessive opioids. This study evaluated the ability of a single educational intervention targeted toward general surgery residents to reduce the quantity of postoperative opioids prescribed. Materials and methods: This retrospective cohort study evaluated opioid prescribing practices 12 mo prior to and 6 mo following a 30-min lecture for general surgery residents that discussed prescribing guidelines and multimodal analgesia. Opioid volumes (normalized to oral morphine equivalents, OME), opioid type, nonopioid pain medications, and refills requested were analyzed for opioid-naïve adult patients undergoing excisional breast biopsy (EB), mastectomy (M), laparoscopic appendectomy (LA), laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC), open umbilical hernia repair (OUHR), open inguinal hernia repair (OIHR), or laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair (LIHR). Results: 695 and 376 patients preintervention and postintervention were included, respectively. Median OME prescribed decreased for EB (150 mg to 75 mg, P < 0.001), M (225 mg to 150 mg, P = 0.85), LA (150 mg to 94 mg, P < 0.001), LC (150 mg to 82 mg, P < 0.001), OUHR (150 mg to 103 mg, P < 0.001), OIHR (175 mg to 100 mg, P = 0.001), and LIHR (200 mg to 113 mg, P < 0.001). Fewer patients received opioids alone and more patients received an opioid with two nonopioid adjuncts (P < 0.001). More patients received oxycodone as fewer received acetaminophen-containing opioid combinations (P < 0.001). Patients requiring refills decreased (11.9% to 7.2%) (P = 0.014). Conclusions: Following this targeted intervention, patients were discharged with fewer OME and more nonopioid analgesics, even as refill requests decreased. Educating residents on opioid prescription guidelines and multimodal therapy is effective and should be part of the annual didactic curriculum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-405
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Guidelines
  • Opioid
  • Surgery
  • Surgical education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'An Educational Intervention Reduces Opioids Prescribed Following General Surgery Procedures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this