Differences in Opioid Prescribing Practices among Plastic Surgery Trainees in the United States and Canada

David W. Grant, Hollie A. Power, Linh N. Vuong, Colin W. McInnes, Katherine B. Santosa, Jennifer F. Waljee, Susan E. MacKinnon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Overprescribing following surgery is a known contributor to the opioid epidemic, increasing the risk of opioid abuse and diversion. Trainees are the primary prescribers of these medications at academic institutions, and little is known about the factors that influence their prescribing. The authors hypothesized that differences in health care funding and delivery would lead to disparities in opioid prescribing. Therefore, the authors sought to compare the prescribing practices of plastic surgery trainees in the United States and Canada. Methods: A survey was administered to trainees at a sample of U.S. and Canadian institutions. The survey queried opioid-prescriber education, factors contributing to prescribing practices, and analgesic prescriptions written after eight procedures. Oral morphine equivalents were calculated for each procedure and compared between groups. Results: One hundred sixty-two trainees completed the survey, yielding a response rate of 32 percent. Opioid-prescriber education was received by 25 percent of U.S. and 53 percent of Canadian trainees (p < 0.0001). Preoperative counseling was performed routinely by only 11 percent of U.S. and 14 percent of Canadian trainees. U.S. trainees prescribed significantly more oral morphine equivalents than Canadians for seven of eight procedures (p < 0.05). Residency training in the United States and junior training level independently predicted higher oral morphine equivalents prescribed (p < 0.05). Conclusions: U.S. trainees prescribed significantly more opioids than their Canadian counterparts for seven of eight procedures surveyed. Many trainees are missing a valuable opportunity to provide opioid counseling to patients. Standardizing trainee education may represent an opportunity to reduce overprescribing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126e-136e
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Volume144
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

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