A retrospective study of opioid prescribing patterns at hospital discharge in surgical patients with obstructive sleep apnea.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

PURPOSE: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a risk factor for complications with postoperative opioid use, and in those patients with known or suspected OSA, minimization of postoperative opioids is recommended. We hypothesize that despite these recommendations, surgical patients with known or suspected OSA are prescribed postoperative opioids at hospital discharge at similar doses to those without OSA. METHODS: This was a retrospective analysis of the electronic health records of surgical patients from 1 November 2016 to 30 April 2017 at a single academic institution. Patients with a known diagnosis of OSA or a STOP-Bang score ≥ 5 were compared with those without OSA for the amount of postoperative discharge opioid medication using multivariable linear regression. RESULTS: Of the 17,671 patients analyzed, 1,692 (9.6%) had known or suspected OSA with 1,450 (86%) of these patients discharged on opioid medications. Of the 15,979 patients without OSA, 12,273 (77%) were discharged on opioid medications. The total median [interquartile range (IQR)] oral morphine equivalents (OME) for all patients was 150 [0-338] mg and for patients with known or suspected OSA was 160 [0-450] mg, an unadjusted comparison showing an 18% difference in OME (95% confidence interval [CI], 3% to 35%; P = 0.02). The analysis, after adjusting for confounders, showed no significant difference in the amount of opioids prescribed to OSA or non-OSA patients (8% difference in total OME; 95% CI, -6% to 25%; P = 0.26). CONCLUSION: This study shows that surgical patients at risk for OSA or confirmed OSA are prescribed opioids at similar rates and doses upon discharge despite guidelines that recommend minimizing opioid use in OSA patients. These findings indicate a need to implement different strategies to reduce the prescription of opioids to patients with OSA.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kendale, SM; Wang, J; Blitz, JD; Calvino, S; Cuff, G; Barone, N; Rosenberg, AD; Doan, L

Published Date

  • August 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 65 / 8

Start / End Page

  • 914 - 922

PubMed ID

  • 29777388

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1496-8975

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s12630-018-1152-9


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States