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Lancet. 2019 Apr 13;393(10180):1547-1557. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(19)30428-3.

Inappropriate opioid prescription after surgery.

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Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine and Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Department of Anesthesia, Perioperative, and Pain Medicine, and Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Critical Care Medicine, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada; Sunnybrook Research Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada; Department of Anesthesia and Interdepartmental Division of Critical Care Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.


Worldwide, the use of prescription opioid analgesics more than doubled between 2001 and 2013, with several countries, including the USA, Canada, and Australia, experiencing epidemics of opioid misuse and abuse over this period. In this context, excessive prescribing of opioids for pain treatment after surgery has been recognised as an important concern for public health and a potential contributor to patterns of opioid misuse and related harm. In the second paper in this Series we review the evolution of prescription opioid use for pain treatment after surgery in the USA, Canada, and other countries. We summarise evidence on the extent of opioid overprescribing after surgery and its potential association with subsequent opioid misuse, diversion, and the development of opioid use disorder. We discuss evidence on patient, physician, and system-level predictors of excessive prescribing after surgery, and summarise recent work on clinical and policy efforts to reduce such prescribing while ensuring adequate pain control.

[Available on 2020-04-13]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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