Education may lead to safe unused opioid disposal postoperatively — 5 insights

Shayna Korol - Print  |

Dissemination of an educational brochure improves disposal of unused opioids after surgery, a study in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons found.

Here are five things to know:

1. Eligible surgery patients from an upper extremity/peripheral nerve clinic were enrolled in the prospective before and after study between February and September 2017. Patients who reported preoperative opioid use were excluded from the study.

2. A total of 334 patients were studied, with 170 who received an educational brochure and 164 who did not; 76 patients were excluded for preoperative opioid use.

3. The same survey was administered to patients who received the brochure and patients who did not.

4. After dissemination of the brochure, there was a significant increase in the proportion of patients who disposed of their unused opioids — 11 percent before and 22 percent after. Of those who disposed of their opioids, there was no significant difference in the proportion of patients from each group who disposed of them in a manner that the brochure recommended.

5. An educational brochure is a low-cost and easily implemented intervention that may ultimately decrease the amount of freely circulating opioids.

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