J Surg Res. 2019 Apr 19;241:57-62. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2019.03.043. [Epub ahead of print]

Inconsistency in Opioid Prescribing Practices After Pediatric Ambulatory Hernia Surgery.

Denning NL1, Kvasnovsky C2, Golden JM3, Rich BS4, Lipskar AM4.

Author information:
1. Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell Health System, Department of Surgery, Manhasset, New York. Electronic address: ndenning@northwell.edu.
2. Cohen Children’s Medical Center, Northwell Health System, Division of Pediatric Surgery, New York, New York.
3. Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell Health System, Department of Surgery, Manhasset, New York.
4. Cohen Children’s Medical Center, Northwell Health System, Division of Pediatric Surgery, New York, New York; Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell Health System, Department of Surgery, Manhasset, New York.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Nonmedical opioid use is a major public health problem. There is little standardization in opioid-prescribing practices for pediatric ambulatory surgery, which can result in patients being prescribed large quantities of opioids. We have evaluated the variability in postoperative pain medication given to pediatric patients following routine ambulatory pediatric surgical procedures.

METHODS:

Following IRB approval, pediatric patients undergoing umbilical hernia repair, inguinal hernia repair, hydrocelectomy, and orchiopexy from 2/1/2017 to 2/1/2018 at our tertiary care children’s hospital were retrospectively reviewed. Data collected include operation, surgeon, resident or fellow involvement, utilization of preoperative analgesia, opioid prescription on discharge, and patient follow-up.

RESULTS:

Of 329 patients identified, opioids were prescribed on discharge to 37.4% of patients (66.3% of umbilical hernia repairs, 20.6% of laparoscopic inguinal hernia repairs, and 33.3% of open inguinal hernia repairs [including hydrocelectomies and orchiopexies]). For each procedure, there was large intrasurgeon and intersurgeon variability in the number of opioid doses prescribed. Opioid prescription ranged from 0 to 33 doses for umbilical hernia repairs, 0 to 24 doses for laparoscopic inguinal repairs, and 0 to 20 doses prescribed for open inguinal repairs, hydrocelectomies, and orchiopexies. Pediatric surgical fellows were less likely to discharge a patient with an opioid prescription than surgical resident prescribers (P < 0.01). In addition, surgical residents were more likely to prescribe more than twelve doses of opioids than pediatric surgical fellows (P < 0.01). Increasing patient age was associated with an increased likelihood of opioid prescription (P < 0.01). There were two phone calls and two clinic visits for pain control issues with equal numbers for those with and without opioid prescriptions.

CONCLUSIONS:

There is significant variation in opioid-prescribing practices after pediatric surgical procedures; increased awareness may help minimize this variability and reduce overprescribing. Training level has an impact on the frequency and quantity of opioids prescribed.