Opioid Overdose After Surgical Discharge | Substance Use and Addiction | JAMA | JAMA Network
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Research Letter
August 7, 2018

Opioid Overdose After Surgical Discharge

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative, and Pain Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA. 2018;320(5):502-504. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.6933

Despite ongoing concerns regarding the prescription opioid epidemic, these medications remain the mainstay of postsurgical pain management. The period after surgical admission represents a potentially vulnerable time when a patient may be using opioids for the first time in an unsupervised setting or require an escalation of their chronic opioid dose. The objective of this study was to determine the frequency of opioid overdose after surgical discharge.

Data for the study were obtained from the Clinformatics Data Mart (Optum), which includes claims data from a nationwide commercial insurer for approximately 13.5 million beneficiaries yearly. Individuals in the database are representative of patients younger than 65 years with slightly more patients in the south and slightly less in the northeast, which is a function of the market share of the insurer. The use of this deidentified database for research was approved by the Partners institutional review board with a waiver of informed consent.