Heart Surgery Patients May Not Need Opioids at Home

Incidence of postdischarge opioid prescriptions low for opioid-naive patients undergoing CABG and/or valve surgery through sternotomy

a person holding pills on the palm of her hand
Adobe Stock

MONDAY, Dec. 27, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Cardiac surgery patients can manage postoperative pain with nonopioid pain medications at home, according to a study published online Dec. 15 in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

Catherine M. Wagner, M.D., from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues identified patient predictors of not receiving an opioid prescription at the time of discharge home after cardiac surgery. The analysis included 1,924 opioid-naive patients (mean age, 64 years; 25 percent women) undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting and/or valve surgery through a sternotomy at 10 hospitals during 2019.

The researchers found that 28 percent of all patients were discharged without an opioid prescription. Older age, longer length of hospital stay, and undergoing surgery during the last three months of the study were independent predictors of discharge without an opioid prescription. In contrast, depression, non-Black and non-White race, and using more opioid pills on the day before discharge were independent predictors of receiving an opioid prescription. Ten of 547 patients discharged without an opioid prescription were subsequently prescribed an opioid.

"Increasing the number of patients discharged without an opioid prescription may be an area for quality improvement," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Abstract/Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)

Physician's Briefing