MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jennifer N. Cooper, PhD
Center for Innovation in Pediatric Practice
The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital,
Research Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
The Ohio State University College of Medicine
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Although postoperative opioid prescribing has decreased in recent years due to an increased awareness of the risks of excess opioid prescribing, many patients are still prescribed more opioids than they need after surgery. In the pediatric population, most opioids are prescribed after surgical and dental procedures.
Although patients are often prescribed more opioids than they need after surgery, previous studies have found that excess opioids left unused after surgery are rarely properly disposed. These leftover opioids can be misused or accidentally ingested by young children. Previous studies have targeted the problem of non-disposal of opioids leftover after surgery by providing patients and families with educational materials describing proper methods of postoperative opioid disposal. However, these studies have had mixed results with some finding an increase in opioid disposal after education and others finding no effect of such education. In addition to education, another means of facilitating postoperative opioid disposal is the provision of drug disposal products. These products contain compounds that irreversible adsorb or oxidize medications, enabling them to be safely disposed of in the home garbage.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: In our study, we randomized 202 families of children undergoing outpatient surgery to receive either standard postoperative education about opioid use, storage and disposal, or standard education plus a drug disposal bag and instructions on its use. We found the rate of proper disposal of excess opioids was more than 15% greater among the families that received a drug disposal bag.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Our findings suggest that, in addition to providers’ efforts to reduce their opioid prescribing, greater availability of drug disposal products is an important means by which the amount of excess opioids in the community can be reduced.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: We recommend greater availability of drug disposal products to patients prescribed opioids. Although several of these products are currently available for purchase and/or freely provided by some pharmacies, future implementation research should evaluate the feasibility and impact of making these products available at no cost to more patients to facilitate excess opioid disposal and reduce opioid misuse after surgery.
Lawrence AE, Carsel AJ, Leonhart KL, et al. Effect of Drug Disposal Bag Provision on Proper Disposal of Unused Opioids by Families of Pediatric Surgical Patients: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Pediatr. Published online June 24, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.1695
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