Patterns of opioid use after surgical discharge: a multicentre, prospective cohort study in 25 countries

TASMAN Collaborative

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Excessive opioid prescribing following surgery contributes to the growing opioid crisis. Prescribing practices are modifiable, yet data to guide appropriate prescription of opioids at surgical discharge remain sparse. This study aimed to evaluate factors associated with opioid consumption following discharge from surgery. Methods: An international prospective multicentre cohort study was performed recruiting adult patients undergoing common general, orthopaedic, gynaecological and urological surgery, with follow-up 7 days after discharge. The primary outcome measures were the quantities of prescribed and consumed opioids in oral morphine milligram equivalents. Descriptive and multivariable analyses were performed to investigate factors associated with the primary outcome measures. Results: This analysis included 4273 patients from 144 hospitals in 25 countries. Overall, 1311 (30.7%) patients were prescribed opioids at discharge. For those patients prescribed opioids, mean (SD) 179 (240) oral morphine milligram equivalents were prescribed, yet only 81 (145) oral morphine milligram equivalents were consumed within the first 7 days after discharge. An increased dose of opioids prescribed at discharge was associated with an increased dose of opioids consumed during the follow-up period (β = 0.33 (95%CI 0.31–0.34), p < 0.001). The risk of prescribing more opioids than patients consumed increased as quantities of opioids prescribed at discharge exceeded 100 oral morphine milligram equivalents, independent of patient comorbidity, procedure and pain. Patients were prescribed more than twice the quantity of opioids they consumed in the first 7 days following discharge from surgery. Conclusions: Our data suggest that the current quantities of opioids provided at discharge exceed patient needs and may contribute to increasing community opioid use and circulation.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • opioids
  • pain management
  • surgery


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