Nonsurgical Providers Provide the Majority of Postoperative Opioid Prescriptions After Hand Surgery.

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Introduction The increased use of Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) websites has helped physicians to limit overlapping controlled substance prescriptions and help prevent opioid abuse. Many studies have investigated risk factors for prolonged opioid use after orthopedic surgery, but few studies have investigated who is prescribing opioids to postoperative patients. The purpose of this study is to investigate the types of medical providers prescribing opioids to hand surgery patients postoperatively. Methods Institutional Review Board approval was obtained prior to initiation of this study. An institutional database search was performed to identify all patients ≥18 years old that underwent a single hand surgery at our institution during a specified time period. Patients with more than one surgical procedure during this time were excluded to prevent potential crossover with opioid prescriptions for different surgical procedures. A search of the state PDMP website was performed to identify opioid prescriptions filled by hand surgery patients from six months preoperatively to 12 months postoperatively. Opioid prescribers were classified into several groups: 1) the patient's operating surgeon, 2) other orthopedic surgery providers, 3) general medicine providers (internal medicine, primary care, family medicine, and adult health providers), and 4) all other medical providers. Results Three hundred twenty-seven patients could be identified in the PDMP database who received an opioid prescription on the day of surgery. Of these, 108 (33.0%) filled a total of 341 additional opioid prescriptions postoperatively. Non-orthopedic providers prescribed 81.5% of all opioid prescriptions within 12 months postoperatively, with the patient's operating surgeon prescribing only 10% of all prescriptions. General medicine providers were the highest prescriber group at 28.7% of total postoperative opioid prescriptions. From six to 12 months postoperatively, the patient's operating surgeon prescribed only 4.9% of total opioid prescriptions filled. The patient's operating surgeon prescribed significantly smaller average opioid prescriptions in total morphine milligram equivalents compared to all other provider groups. Conclusions Surgeons should be aware that their surgical patients may be receiving opioid prescriptions from a wide variety of medical providers postoperatively, and that these other providers may be prescribing larger prescriptions. The findings of this study emphasize the importance of collaboration across medical specialties to mitigate the risks of prolonged opioid use after hand surgery.





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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Surgery, Department of Surgery Residents, Fellows and Residents

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