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August 15, 2019

Reaping What We Sow—Reflections on the Otolaryngologist’s Role in Opioid Stewardship

Author Affiliations
  • 1University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2019;145(10):887-888. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2019.2192

“Daddy, have you ever had a patient die?” my 10-year-old son asked as I tucked him in to bed. I explained that treatment cannot reverse every disease. “But, do people ever die from surgery?” he asked pointedly.

“Most types of surgery are very safe nowadays,” I said. Then, after reflection, I explained that the opioids prescribed after surgery were involved in many overdose deaths, likely more than we know.

His eyes opened wide. He knew about the opioid epidemic, but this was the first time that I had shared with him about the role of opioid prescribing—and my own likely contribution.