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Excess opioid prescription after cesarean delivery may trigger opioid abuse, says study

Excess opioid prescription after cesarean delivery may trigger opioid abuse, says study

The number of births by Cesarean section constitutes roughly 32 percent of the total number of deliveries across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A recent study, titled “Patterns of Opioid Prescription and Use After Cesarean Delivery,” revealed how women giving birth by C-section are recommended opioid painkillers over and above what may be deemed necessary and this increases their risk of abusing opioids.

The study, published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology in June 2017, stressed on the potential risk of misuse of excess pain relievers recommended to mothers after the C-section. Considering that the numbers of births by C-section is increasing every year and no effective treatment options are yet available to treat pain that follows caesarean operation, there are chances of prescription medicines being advised rampantly.

Until date, no study has been able to pinpoint the exact number of medicines that would be enough to alleviate the pain following the caesarean. The number of opioids prescribed differs from one provider to the other. In case of excess opioids being prescribed, there is a potential of leftover drugs falling into wrong hands, thus, necessitating the need to exercise added caution to limit them.

The researchers observed 720 C-section patients at six American medical centers. Roughly, 85 percent patients were recommended prescription opioids before they left the hospital. During the study, the researchers found that the women had been prescribed two times the number of pills they actually used. An analysis of the extent of leftover opioid pills revealed that every patient had an excess of 15 medicine pills. After an estimation of the leftover pills, it was found that approximately 20 million excess opioids can be diverted and abused.

The corresponding author of the study Dr. Brian Bateman added, “This was especially interesting to us, because it suggests that we are setting patient expectations based on the number of pills that we prescribed.” The observations suggested that the solution to the problem does not include simple remedies as lowering the number of pills prescribed. The observation also made it imperative for clinicians to advise pain relief methods that do not involve opioid use.

Can shared decision-making intervention reduce pain pills prescriptions?

In an accompanying study, a team of researchers aimed to find if patients were prescribed more pain medications in the hospital. The researchers in their study, titled “A Shared Decision-Making Intervention to Guide Opioid Prescribing After Cesarean Delivery,” aimed to assess if a joint decision regarding recommendation of pain pills helped reduce the number of oxycodone tablets advised after delivery through C-section.

The respondents of the study, published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology in June 2017, were given access to a tablet-based decision with the help of a clinician. The participants then reviewed the information related to expected pain patterns during the first two weeks after the cesarean delivery, anticipated outpatient opioid use post-delivery and risks and advantages of the opioid and non-opioid medicine pills prescribed. It was observed that the women preferred to make a selection of the number of pills (5mg of oxycodone pills) that they would be advised at the time of discharge, not exceeding the standard limit of 40 pills.

The results indicated that making use of shared decision-making tool resulted in 50 percent less prescription of opioid pills during discharge. It was also found that the refill rate was low, irrespective of the number of pills originally prescribed, with a major percentage of the women being satisfied with the pain control method.

Getting rid of extra opioids

While doctors need to remind themselves against recommending excess prescription painkillers, there is a need to educate new mothers that they must use opioids only if really need them. The need for gradual reduction of the number of opioids must start as soon as they can while taking care that the leftover medicines are disposed of properly. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction, contact Sovereign Health for information about addiction rehab centers in the U.S. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-683-9756 or chat online for expert advice on the best addiction treatment centers in your vicinity.