The purpose of this study was to evaluate nationwide trends and regional variability in opioid prescriptions after common orthopaedic procedures.
A retrospective analysis of privately insured subjects from the MarketScan database between 2015 and 2016 was conducted. Median oral morphine equivalents and interquartile ranges were analyzed by region for the initial post-op prescriptions and 90-day total prescriptions for opioid-naive patients undergoing the following: carpal tunnel release; anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction; arthroscopic meniscectomy; bimalleolar ankle fracture open reduction and internal fixation; distal radius fracture open reduction and internal fixation; arthroscopic rotator cuff repair; single-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion; and total shoulder, hip, and knee arthroplasties. We hypothesized that notable regional variability exists with postoperative narcotic prescribing habits.
Seventy three thousand nine hundred twenty-one opioid-naive patients were identified. A notable regional variability was observed across the United States in the prescriptions given for all procedures, except total joint arthroplasty. Furthermore, although patients undergoing soft-tissue–only procedures required the fewest refills, patients undergoing total joint arthroplasty required the most.
Notable regional variability exisits in opioid prescribing patterns for many common orthopaedic procedures. Furthermore, prescriptions were smallest in the region most affected by the opioid epidemic. This information can be used to re-evaluate recommendations, serve as a benchmark for surgeons, and develop institutional and quality improvement guidelines to reduce excess postoperative opioid prescriptions.
Level of Evidence:
Level III observational cohort study