Third-year resident, Kevin Olsen, MD, was first author on a paper published in the Journal of Surgical Research.
The article is titled “Postoperative surgical trainee opioid prescribing practices (POST OPP): an institutional study” and was co-authored by Ajay B. Antony, MD, and Terrie Vasilopoulos, PhD, from the Department of Anesthesiology, and David J. Hall, MD, Juan C. Mira, MD, Patrick W. Underwood, MD, and George A. Sarosi, MD, FACS, from the Department of Surgery.
Read the abstract below or click here to read the full publication.
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Increasing mortality from opioid overdoses has prompted increased focus on prescribing practices of physicians. Unfortunately, resident physicians rarely receive formal education in effective opioid prescribing practices or postoperative pain management. Data to inform surgical training programs regarding the utility and feasibility of formal training are lacking.
Following Institutional Review Board approval, a single institution’s resident physicians who had completed at least one surgical rotation were surveyed to assess knowledge of pain management and evaluate opioid prescribing practices.
Fifty-three respondents (68% males and 32% females) completed the survey. Most respondents denied receiving formal instruction in opioid pain medication prescribing practices during either medical school (62.3%) or residency (56.6%); however, nearly all respondents stated they were aware of the side effects of opioid pain medications, and a majority felt confident in their knowledge of opioid pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. Of the respondents, 47% either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they prescribed more opioid medications than necessary to patients being discharged following a surgical procedure. Individual case scenario responses demonstrated variability in the number of morphine milligram equivalents prescribed across scenarios (P < 0.001). Male and nonsurgical specialty respondents reported prescribing significantly fewer overall morphine milligram equivalents in these scenarios.
This pilot study shows wide variability in opioid prescribing practices and attitudes toward pain management among surgical trainees, illustrating the potential utility of formal education in pain management and effective prescribing of these medications. A broader assessment of surgical trainees’ knowledge and perception of opioid prescribing practices is warranted to facilitate the development of such a program.