The United States is currently in the midst of an opioid epidemic precipitated, in part, by the excessive outpatient supply of opioid pain medications. Accordingly, this epidemic has necessitated evaluation of practice and prescription patterns among surgical specialties. The purpose of this study was to quantify opioid-related adverse events in ambulatory plastic surgery.
A retrospective review of 43,074 patient profiles captured from 2001 to 2018 within an American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities quality improvement database was conducted. Free-text search terms related to opioids and overdose were used to identify opioid-related adverse events. Extracted profiles included information submitted by accredited ambulatory surgery facilities and their respective surgeons. Descriptive statistics were used to quantify opioid-related adverse events.
Among our cohort, 28 plastic surgery patients were identified as having an opioid-related adverse event. Overall, there were three fatal and 12 nonfatal opioid-related overdoses, nine perioperative opioid-related adverse events, and four cases of opioid-related hypersensitivities or complications secondary to opioid tolerance. Of the nonfatal cases evaluated in the hospital (n = 17), 16 patients required admission, with an average 3.3 ± 1.7 days’ hospital length of stay.
Opioid-related adverse events are notable occurrences in ambulatory plastic surgery. Several adverse events may have been prevented had different diligent medication prescription practices been performed. Currently, there is more advocacy supporting sparing opioid medications when possible through multimodal anesthetic techniques, education of patients on the risks and harms of opioid use and misuse, and the development of societal guidance regarding ambulatory surgery prescription practices.