Use of Outpatient Opioids Prescribed From a Pediatric Acute Care Setting.

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DOI: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000002731


OBJECTIVES: Deaths due to prescription opioid overdoses are at record high levels. Limiting the amount of opioid prescribed has been suggested as a prevention strategy, but little is known about how much is needed to adequately treat acutely painful conditions for outpatients. The purpose of this study was to quantify the usage of opioids prescribed from the pediatric emergency departments of a Midwestern tertiary care children's hospital system.

METHODS: This was a prospective descriptive study in which patients aged 0 to 17 years seen in 2 pediatric emergency departments who received a prescription for an outpatient opioid were enrolled. The main outcome was opioid doses used at home, which was obtained via phone follow-up. Additional information, including patient demographics, location, prescriber specialty, diagnosis, and opioid name and amount prescribed, was obtained via chart review.

RESULTS: A total of 295 patients were enrolled, with 281 completing the study (95%). The median numbers of opioid doses prescribed and used were 12 and 2 doses, respectively, with 9 doses in excess. Patients with lower extremity fractures used more opioids than other diagnoses, with a median of 8 doses. The majority of families reported keeping extra doses at home.

CONCLUSIONS: Prescribed opioid doses exceeded used doses by a factor of 6. Lower extremity fractures required more doses than other acutely painful conditions. We should consider limiting doses prescribed to decrease excess opioids available for misuse and abuse.

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Pediatric emergency care





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MeSH Keywords

Analgesics, Opioid; Child; Fractures, Bone; Humans; Outpatients; Pain; Practice Patterns, Physicians'; Prospective Studies


Opioid Analgesics; Bone Fractures; Outpatients; Pain; Practice Patterns, Physicians'; Prospective Studies

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