What do clinicians need to know?
Hospital emergency departments and surgical services are common sources of opioid analgesic prescribing for acute pain, and are key risk areas for initiation of ongoing use.
In the early postoperative period, each refill and week of opioid analgesic prescription is associated with a large increase in opioid misuse among opioid-naive patients. The number of days in the first opioid analgesic prescription is more strongly related to misuse than the dosage.
Opioid analgesics are effective for managing acute pain, but as high-risk medicines they can cause unintended harm. Careful assessment and management are required to deliver the benefits of prescribing opioid analgesics while minimising the possibility of harms, including respiratory depression, misuse, dependence and overdose.
The Opioid Analgesic Stewardship in Acute Pain Clinical Care Standard includes the nine quality statements listed below.