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Prescription Opioid Analgesics: Promoting Patient Safety with Better Patient Education

Costello, Margaret PhD, RN

AJN, American Journal of Nursing: November 2015 - Volume 115 - Issue 11 - p 50–56
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000473315.02325.b4
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Overview Patients expect and deserve adequate postoperative pain relief. Opioid analgesics are widely used and effective in controlling postoperative pain, but their use poses risks that many patients don't understand and that all too often result in adverse outcomes. Inappropriate and often dangerous use of prescription medication has increased sharply in the past two decades in the United States. Patients and caregivers must have an adequate understanding of safe use, storage, and disposal of opioids to prevent adverse drug events in patients and others. Nurses play a key role in providing this patient education. This article provides a case study that highlights the risks and important aspects of opioid medication use in the postoperative patient.

Using a case study, the author examines the risks of nonmedical opioid use in postoperative patients and highlights the nurses’ role in patient education to avoid adverse outcomes.

Margaret Costello is an assistant professor at Simmons College School of Nursing and Health Sciences in Boston. Contact author: margaret.costello@simmons.edu. The author has disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

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