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Non-medical opioid use (NMOU) is a growing crisis. Cancer patients at elevated risk of NMOU (+risk) are frequently underdiagnosed. The aim of this paper was to develop a nomogram to predict the probability of +risk among cancer patients receiving outpatient supportive care consultation at a comprehensive cancer center.
3,588 consecutive patients referred to a supportive care clinic were reviewed. All patients had a diagnosis of cancer and were on opioids for pain. All patients were assessed using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS), Screener and Opioid Assessment for Patients with Pain (SOAPP-14), and CAGE-AID (Cut Down-Annoyed-Guilty-Eye Opener) questionnaires. “+risk” was defined as an SOAPP-14 score of ≥7. A nomogram was devised based on the risk factors determined by the multivariate logistic regression model to estimate the probability of +risk.
731/3,588 consults were +risk. +risk was significantly associated with gender, race, marital status, smoking status, depression, anxiety, financial distress, MEDD (morphine equivalent daily dose), and CAGE-AID score. The C-index was 0.8. A nomogram was developed and can be accessed at https://is.gd/soappnomogram. For example, for a male Hispanic patient, married, never smoked, with ESAS scores for depression = 3, anxiety = 3, financial distress = 7, a CAGE score of 0, and an MEDD score of 20, the total score is 9 + 9+0 + 0+6 + 10 + 23 + 0+1 = 58. A nomogram score of 58 indicates the probability of +risk of 0.1.
Significance of results
We established a practical nomogram to assess the +risk. The application of a nomogram based on routinely collected clinical data can help clinicians establish patients with +risk and positively impact care planning.
Since 1999, the rate of fatal prescription opioid overdoses and of suicides has dramatically increased in the USA. These increases, which have occurred among similar demographic groups, have led to the hypothesis that the opioid epidemic contributed to increases in suicidal behavior, though the underlying association remains poorly defined. We examine the association between nonmedical use of prescription opioids/opioid use disorder and suicidal ideation/attempts.
We used longitudinal data from a national representative sample of the US adult population, the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Participants (n = 34 653) were interviewed in 2001–2002 (wave 1) and re-interviewed approximately 3 years later (wave 2). A propensity score analysis estimated the association between exposure to prescription opioids at wave 1 and prevalent/incident suicidal behavior at wave 2.
Heavy/frequent (⩾2–3 times a month) prescription opioid use was associated with prevalent suicide attempts [adjusted risk ratio (ARR) = 2.75, 95% CI 1.35–5.60]. Prescription opioid use disorder was associated with prevalent (ARR = 1.98, 95% CI 1.20–3.28) and incident suicidal ideation (ARR = 2.59, 95% CI 1.25–5.37), and prevalent attempts (ARR = 4.19, 95% CI 1.71–10.27). None of the exposures was associated with incident suicide attempts.
Heavy/frequent opioid use and related disorder were associated with prevalent suicide attempts; opioid use disorder was also associated with the incident and prevalent suicidal ideation. Given population increases in nonmedical use of prescription opioids and disorder, the opioid crisis may have contributed to population increases in suicidal ideation.
There is no second chance to improve the quality of life of a dying patient. Getting it right allows a good death and leads to an uncomplicated bereavement for the family. However, there is much more to palliative care prescribing than just instituting a syringe driver: this chapter provides important information on opioid use (including how to calculate breakthrough doses and converting oral morphine to subcutaneous formulations), antiemetics and other commonly used drugs in palliative care.
Epidural analgesia is a safe and effective method of providing pain relief before, during and after a surgical procedure, or for patients with chronic pain, using a combination of local anaesthetic and opioids. The choice of agent, contraindications and complications of epidural analgesia are discussed, and the reader is also provided with top tips for prescribing epidurals.
Patient-controlled anagesia (PCA), used for the control of moderate to severe pain in the acute postoperative period, allows patients to self-administer boluses of intravenous or subcutaneous opioids. This chapter describes the advantages of this therapy, contraindications and provides top tips for PCA administration.
Poor analgesic control diminishes a patient’s quality of life and may slow down hospital recovery. The reader is introduced to the basic concepts of analgesia, including the WHO Pain Ladder, and some of the most commonly used analgesics, along with their indications, side effects and relative contraindications. Opioids are also described, and new prescribers are provided with conversion tables for the most commonly used preparations, including transdermal patches.
Opioid-related deaths are increasing at alarming rates in Canada, with a 34% increase from 2016 to 2017. Patients with opioid use disorder often visit emergency departments (ED), presenting an opportunity to engage patients in treatment. Buprenorphine-naloxone is first-line treatment for opioid use disorder, but current management in the ED is unknown. This study aimed to characterize opioid use disorder management in the ED.
We conducted a cross-sectional study of emergency physicians across Canada. A survey was circulated electronically to the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians members. Participants were asked about their current management practices, satisfaction, and helpfulness of resources. SAS (version 9.4) was used for statistical analysis. We dichotomized Likert-scale responses to approximate relative risk ratios via a log binomial analysis.
The survey was completed by 179 participants for a response rate of 11.1%; 143 (79.9%) physicians treated patients with opioid use disorder more than once a week. Only 7% (n = 13) of respondents always/often gave buprenorphine in the ED. Referral to an addiction clinic where patients were seen quickly was deemed the most helpful (90.5%, n = 162). Physicians who reported satisfaction with opioid use disorder management were four times more likely to prescribe buprenorphine in the ED or as an outpatient script (RR = 4.41, CI = 2.33–8.33, p < 0.01; RR = 4.51, CI = 2.21–9.22, p < 0.01).
This study found that buprenorphine is not frequently prescribed in the ED setting, which is incongruent with the 2018 guidelines. Care coordination and on-site support were helpful to ED physicians. Hospitals should use knowledge translation strategies to improve the care of patients with an opioid use disorder.
Opioid related mortality rate has increased 200% over the past decade. Studies show variable emergency department (ED) opioid prescription practices and a correlation with increased long-term use. ED physicians may be contributing to this problem. Our objective was to analyze ED opioid prescription practices for patients with acute fractures.
We conducted a review of ED patients seen at two campuses of a tertiary care hospital. We evaluated a consecutive sample of patients with acute fractures (January 2016–April 2016) seen by ED physicians. Patients admitted or discharged by consultant services were excluded. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients discharged with an opioid prescription. Data were collected using screening lists, electronic records, and interobserver agreement. We calculated simple descriptive statistics and a multivariable analysis.
We enrolled 816 patients, including 441 females (54.0%). Most common fracture was wrist/hand (35.2%). 260 patients (31.8%) were discharged with an opioid; hydromorphone (N = 115, range 1–120 mg) was most common. 35 patients (4.3%) had pain related ED visits <1 month after discharge. Fractures of the lumbar spine (OR 10.78 [95% CI: 3.15–36.90]) and rib(s)/sternum/thoracic spine (OR 5.46 [95% CI: 2.88–10.35)] had a significantly higher likelihood of opioid prescriptions.
The majority of patients presenting to the ED with acute fractures were not discharged with an opioid. Hydromorphone was the most common opioid prescribed, with large variations in total dosage. Overall, there were few return to ED visits. We recommend standardization of ED opioid prescribing, with attention to limiting total dosage.
Introduction: Patients hospitalized following a trauma will be frequently treated with opioids during their stay and after discharge. We examined the relationship between acute phase (< 3 months) opioid use after discharge and the risk of opioid poisoning (OP) or opioid use disorder (OUD) in older trauma patients Methods: In a retrospective multicenter cohort study conducted on registry data, we included all patients aged 65 years and older admitted (hospital stay >2 days) for injury in 57 trauma centers in the province of Quebec (Canada) between 2004 and 2014. We searched for OP and OUD from ICD-9 and ICD-10 code diagnosis that resulted in a hospitalization or a medical consultation after their initial injury. Patients that filled an opioid prescription within a 3-month period after sustaining the trauma were compared to those who did not fill an opioid prescription during that period using Cox proportional hazards regressions. Results: A total of 70,314 participants were retained for analysis; median age was 82 years (IQR: 75-87), 68% were women, and 34% of the patients filled an opioid prescription within 3-months of the initial trauma. During a median follow-up of 2.6 years (IQR: 1-5), 192 participants (0.30%; 95%CI: 0.25%-0.35%) were hospitalized for OP and 73 (0.10%; 95%CI: 0.07%-0.13%) were diagnosed with OUD. Having filled an opioid prescription within 3-months of injury was associated with an increased hazard ratio of OP (2.6; 95%CI: 1.9-3.5) and OUD (4.0; 95%CI: 2.3-7.0). However, history of OP (2.7; 95%CI: 1.2-6.1), of substance use disorder (4.3; 95%CI: 2.4-7.9), or of opioid prescription filled (2.7; 95%CI: 2.1-3.5) before trauma were also related to OP or OUD. Conclusion: Opioid poisoning and opioid use disorder are rare events after hospitalization for trauma in older patients. However, opioids should be used cautiously in patients with history of substance use disorder, opioid poisoning or opioid use during the past year.
Introduction: Naloxone is recommended for reversing opioid-associated respiratory depression. There is wide variability in emergency department (ED) practice patterns regarding naloxone use, dosing, and observation time post-administration. This study describes the naloxone practice patterns of ED physicians managing suspected opioid overdose patients. Methods: A retrospective chart review was conducted of adult patients (≥ 18 years) presenting to an academic tertiary care centre (consisting of two EDs with an annual census 150,000 visits) in 2017 with suspected opioid overdose who were administered naloxone in the ED. Patients were identified electronically and the following information was abstracted from patient charts: demographics, naloxone dosage and infusion initiation, disposition data, indications for naloxone administration, response to therapy, and adverse effects. Variability in initial and total dose was examined. Initial dose was also compared in those with cardiorespiratory compromise (CPR given, respiratory rate < 8, or desaturation below 89%) using independent samples median tests. Data was analyzed using standard descriptive statistics. Results: 113 patients met inclusion criteria. Indications for naloxone administration were: level of consciousness (50.5%), respiratory depression (4.0%), miosis (1.0%), a combination of factors (19.8%), or undocumented (24.8%). Median initial dose was 0.40 mg (IQR: 0.20-0.40 mg). Median total naloxone administered in the ED was 0.48 mg (IQR: 0.35-1.2 mg). The initial dose resulted in a response in 43.1% of patients, with 36.0% of responding patients later experiencing subsequent respiratory depression. 31% of patients received a naloxone infusion. Initial dose in patients with cardiopulmonary compromise was significantly different only comparing patients who received CPR versus those who did not (median 0.40 mg; IQR: 0.20-0.80 mg; P = 0.019). Four patients experienced emesis following naloxone. Median length of ED stay was 7.0 hours (IQR: 4.0-9.5 hours), and median hospital length of stay was 3.0 days (IQR: 1.0-5.0 days). Median ED observation time prior to discharge was 4.0 hours (IQR: 2.0-8.0 hours). Ultimate disposition home, to the ward, or to the intensive care unit was 47.1%, 42.2%, and 9.8% respectively (1.0% deceased). Conclusion: The dose and usage of naloxone by ED physicians in this study is variable. Further prospective studies are needed to determine the effective naloxone dosing strategy.
Introduction: Buprenorphine/naloxone (buprenorphine) has proven to be a life-saving intervention amidst the ongoing opioid epidemic in Canada. Research has shown benefits to initiating buprenorphine from the emergency department (ED) including improved treatment retention, systemic health care savings and fewer drug-related visits to the ED. Despite this, there has been little to no uptake of this evidence-based practice in our department. This qualitative study aimed to determine the local barriers and potential solutions to initiating buprenorphine in the ED and gain an understanding of physician attitudes and behaviours regarding harm reduction care and opioid use disorder management. Methods: ED physicians at a midsize Atlantic hospital were recruited by convenience sampling to participate in semi-structured privately conducted interviews. Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim and de-identified transcripts were uploaded to NVivo 12 plus for concept driven and inductive coding and a hierarchy of open, axial and selective coding was employed. Transcripts were independently reviewed by a local qualitative research expert and themes were compared for similarity to limit bias. Interview saturation was reached after 7 interviews. Results: Emergent themes included a narrow scope of harm reduction care that primarily focused on abstinence-based therapies and a multitude of biases including feelings of deception, fear of diversion, feeling buprenorphine induction was too time consuming for the ED and differentiating patients with opioid use disorder from ‘medically ill’ patients. Several barriers and proposed solutions to initiating buprenorphine from the ED were elicited including lack of training and need for formal education, poor familiarity with buprenorphine, the need for an algorithm and community bridge program and formal supports such as an addictions consult team for the ED. Conclusion: This study elicited several opportunities for improved care for patients with addictions presenting to our ED. Future education will focus on harm reduction care, specifically strategies for managing patients desiring to continue to use substances. Education will focus on addressing the multitude of biases elicited and dispelling common myths. A locally informed buprenorphine pathway will be developed. In future, this study may be used to advocate for improved formal supports for our department including an addictions consult team.
Introduction: The opioid crisis has reached epidemic levels in Canada, driven in large part by prescription drug use. Emergency physicians are frequent prescribers of opioids; therefore, the emergency department (ED) represents an important setting for potential intervention to encourage rational and safe prescribing. The objective of this study was to systematically review the literature on interventions aimed to influence opioid prescribing in the ED. Methods: Electronic searches of Medline and Cochrane were conducted and reference lists were hand-searched. All quantitative studies published in English from 2009 to 2019 were eligible for inclusion. Two reviewers independently screened the search output to identify potentially eligible studies, the full texts of which were retrieved and assessed for inclusion. Outcomes of interest included opioid prescribing rate (proportion of ED visits resulting in an opioid prescription at discharge), morphine milligram equivalents per prescription and variability among prescribers. Results: The search strategy yielded 797 potentially relevant citations. After eliminating duplicate citations and studies that did not meet eligibility criteria, 34 potentially relevant studies were retrieved in full text. Of these, 28 studies were included in the review. The majority (26, 92.9%) of studies were based in the United States and two (7.1%) were from Australia. Four (14.3%) were randomized controlled trials. The interventions were classified into six categories: prescribing guidelines (n = 10), regulation/rescheduling of opioids (n = 6), prescribing data transparency (n = 4), education (n = 4), care coordination (n = 3), and electronic medical record changes (n = 1). The majority of interventions reduced the opioid prescribing rate from the ED (21/28, 75.0%), although regulation/rescheduling of opioids had mixed effectiveness, with 3/6 (50%) studies reporting a small increase in the opioid prescribing rate post-intervention. Education had small yet consistent effects on reducing the opioid prescribing rate. Conclusion: A variety of interventions have attempted to improve opioid prescribing from the ED. These interventions include prescribing guidelines, regulation/rescheduling, data transparency, education, care coordination, and electronic medical record changes. The majority of interventions reduced the opioid prescribing rate; however, regulation/rescheduling of opioids demonstrated mixed effectiveness.
Introduction: Acute pain represents one of the most common reasons for emergency department (ED) visits. In the opioid epidemic that North America faces, there is a significant demand for novel pain control modalities that are both safe and effective. Regional anesthesia techniques have revolutionized perioperative pain management, and they are currently thought to be indicated for acute pain relief in the ED. The erector spinae plane block (ESPB) is a novel regional block that has the ability to block multidermatomal sensation, including cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions, depending on the vertebral level at which the anesthetic is injected along the erector spinae muscle. Under ultrasound guidance, the landmarks involved are easy to identify, and there are no vital structures in the immediate vicinity of the site of injection. By reviewing the literature on ESPB, this review aims to summarize all its indications and efficacy for acute pain management in the ED. Methods: In April 2019, PUBMED, EMBASE, MEDLINE as well as CINAHL databases were systematically searched for articles discussing the use of ESPB in the ED. In compliance with the PRISMA guidelines, the search results were selected against inclusion and exclusion criteria. Due to the novelty of the block, all types of articles were included. Results: Ten studies on 7 different indications have been published on the use of ESPB in the ED. It is currently most commonly used for rib and spine fractures. Other indications include, mechanical back pain, burn injuries, herpes zoster, renal colic, and acute pancreatitis. ESPB was administered at the vertebral level of region of most pain, unilaterally or bilaterally for complete dermatomal block. It was injected as a single or continuous block - in the seated, lateral, or prone position. All of the studies demonstrate a significant reduction in pain. Furthermore, it has been reported to improve respiratory function, and it has not been associated with any complications following administration. Conclusion: This review shows initial data on the promising effect of ESPB in acute pain management in the ED. Current evidence shows its effectiveness and safety for the most common presenting cases of pain, such as rib and spine fracture, mechanical back pain, burn injuries, herpes zoster, renal colic, as well as acute pancreatitis. ESPB is flexible in administration and relatively easy to perform under ultrasound guidance.
Introduction: Canada is in the midst of an opioid crisis. The number of apparent opioid-related deaths between January and March 2018 increased by 44% compared to the same period in 2016. The increasing use of prescription opioids and higher doses of opioids can lead to opioid addiction, toxicity and even death. Opioids are commonly prescribed for low back pain management in the ED, but the variability in opioid-prescribing patterns suggested an opportunity for improvement. Our centre implemented Clinician Performance Indicators (CPI) in 2015. CPIs were reported to each ED physician every 3 months and included the percentage of patients who were prescribed opioids. The intent was to raise awareness of opioid-prescribing patterns at our institution. Therefore, we evaluated opioid-prescribing patterns for patients with low back pain (LBP) before and after the CPI implementation. Methods: Data were obtained retrospectively for patients discharged from the ED from July 2015 to December 2018 with LBP-associated ICD 10 codes. We excluded admitted patients, those with specialist consultations, and patients who left without being seen. The primary outcome was opioid prescribing patterns for patients with LBP before and after CPI implementation. We performed a descriptive analysis of the data and compared the prescribing rates pre-implementation (July-Dec 2015) to post-implementation (July-Dec 2016) following a 6-month wash-out period. Moreover, we analyzed opioid-prescribing patterns over an extended period until December 2018. Results: After the exclusion criteria were applied, 8993 patients were included in the analysis. 53.5% were female and the mean (SD) age was 48.3 (19.78). During the three years of the study period, the percentage of LBP patients who received opioids showed a decreasing trend. Comparison of the pre and post CPI implementation periods showed a decrease in opioid prescriptions (42.0% vs 35.5%, 95%CI 2.9% to 10.2%). There was variation in opioids prescribed at our institution, the most common being hydromorphone (29.9%), followed by acetaminophen-oxycodone (24.2%) and acetaminophen-tramadol (20.0%). Conclusion: The implementation of CPIs positively impacted physicians' opioid-prescribing patterns for patients presenting with LBPs at our institution. Future studies are required to further improve the effectiveness of CPIs in influencing opioid-prescribing patterns.
Introduction: Distributing take-home naloxone (THN) kits from Emergency Departments (EDs) is an important strategy for preventing opioid overdose deaths. However, there is a lack of clear operational guidance for implementing ED-based THN programs. This scoping review had two objectives: 1) identify key strategies for THN distribution in EDs, and 2) develop a theory-informed implementation model that can be used to optimize the effectiveness of ED-based THN programs. Methods: We systematically searched health science databases through April 18, 2019. The search strategy combined terms representing the ED, naloxone, and take-home kits/bystander administration. Two reviewers independently screened the search results. We included all peer-reviewed articles that described THN distribution within EDs. A standardized form was used for data extraction. Included studies were coded by two reviewers and mapped to domains of the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR). A third reviewer with content expertise adjudicated disagreements in record screening and data coding. Results: Database searching retrieved 717 records after duplicates were removed. 87 full-text studies were assessed for eligibility. Two studies were added through other sources, resulting in a total of 21 studies included in the final review. Of note, 14 studies evaluated existing ED-based THN programs. We synthesized themes that emerged within each CFIR domain and identified four key implementation strategies: 1) develop ED policies on opioid harm reduction; 2) collaborate with community and government partners to ensure programs meet patient needs; 3) address provider attitudes and knowledge gaps through dedicated training; and 4) establish guidelines to identify patients who are at risk of opioid overdose, and engage at-risk patients to maximize THN acceptance. Conclusion: ED-based THN programs must be tailored to local community needs and available hospital resources. Innovative implementation strategies are needed to promote ED provider engagement, and reduce barriers to patient acceptance of THN in the ED. This scoping review highlights key considerations for ED-THN implementation that can guide EDs to establish new programs, or refine existing programs to maximize their effectiveness.
Introduction: Despite an overall decline in opioid prescriptions in Canada, healthcare visits, hospitalizations, and deaths due to opioid-related harms continue to rise for children. Clinicians urgently require high quality synthesized evidence to inform personalized decisions regarding opioid use for children. The objective of this systematic review was to examine the association between short-term therapeutic exposure to opioids and development of opioid use disorder. Methods: A medical librarian conducted a comprehensive search of 10 databases from inception to May 2019. Two authors independently assessed studies for inclusion. Studies were eligible if they reported primary research in English or French, and study participants had short (<14 days) or non-specific duration of therapeutic exposure to opioids before age 18 years. Primary outcome was the development of an opioid use disorder; secondary outcomes included opioid addiction, dependence, misuse, and abuse. Data extraction involved two independent reviewers utilizing a standardized form. Methodological quality was assessed using the NIH tools for observational studies. Results are described narratively. Results: The search identified 4,072 unique citations; 82 were selected for review, and 17 were included (3 retrospective cohort, 4 prospective cohort, and 10 cross-sectional). All studies took place in the USA. A total of 1,562,503 participants were analyzed. Nine studies were administered in schools, 3 used administrative data. While most settings were non-specific, 1 study examined opioid use in dentistry, 1 in trauma, and 1 in organized sports. One comparative study showed an association between short-term therapeutic use and opioid misuse. Two studies showed opioid related adverse events (e.g., overdose) among cohorts exposed to short-term use. The remaining 14 studies did not specify duration of exposure; therefore, confirming whether misuse was due to short-term therapeutic exposure was not possible. Conclusion: A small number of studies in this review suggest an association between short-term opioid use and opioid misuse; however, further analysis is underway with consideration of methodological limitations of the individual studies (final results pending). Careful consideration of the risk and benefits of short-term opioid use should be undertaken prior to prescribing opioids. PROSPERO Registration Number: 122681.
Background: Since January 1, 2016 2358 people have died from opioid poisoning in Alberta. Buprenorphine/naloxone (bup/nal) is the recommended first line treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) and this treatment can be initiated in emergency departments and urgent care centres (EDs). Aim Statement: This project aims to spread a quality improvement intervention to all 107 adult EDs in Alberta by March 31, 2020. The intervention supports clinicians to initiate bup/nal for eligible individuals and provide rapid referrals to OUD treatment clinics. Measures & Design: Local ED teams were identified (administrators, clinical nurse educators, physicians and, where available, pharmacists and social workers). Local teams were supported by a provincial project team (project manager, consultant, and five physician leads) through a multi-faceted implementation process using provincial order sets, clinician education products, and patient-facing information. We used administrative ED and pharmacy data to track the number of visits where bup/nal was given in ED, and whether discharged patients continued to fill any opioid agonist treatment (OAT) prescription 30 days after their index ED visit. OUD clinics reported the number of referrals received from EDs and the number attending their first appointment. Patient safety event reports were tracked to identify any unintended negative impacts. Evaluation/Results: We report data from May 15, 2018 (program start) to September 31, 2019. Forty-nine EDs (46% of 107) implemented the program and 22 (45% of 49) reported evaluation data. There were 5385 opioid-related visits to reporting ED sites after program adoption. Bup/nal was given during 832 ED visits (663 unique patients): 7 visits in the 1st quarter the program operated, 55 in the 2nd, 74 in the 3rd, 143 in the 4th, 294 in the 5th, and 255 in the 6th. Among 505 unique discharged patients with 30 day follow up data available 319 (63%) continued to fill any OAT prescription after receiving bup/nal in ED. 16 (70%) of 23 community clinics provided data. EDs referred patients to these clinics 440 times, and 236 referrals (54%) attended their first follow-up appointment. Available data may under-report program impact. 5 patient safety events have been reported, with no harm or minimal harm to the patient. Discussion/Impact: Results demonstrate effective spread and uptake of a standardized provincial ED based early medical intervention program for patients who live with OUD.
Introduction: Emergency department (ED) opioid prescribing has been linked to long-term use and dependence. Anecdotally, significant opioid practice variability exists between physicians and institutions, but this is poorly defined. Our objective was to collate and analyze multicenter data looking at predictors of ED opioid use and to identify potential areas for opioid stewardship. Methods: We linked administrative and computerized physician order entry (CPOE) data from all four ED's within our municipality over a one-year period. Eligible patients included those with a Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) pain complaint or an arrival numeric rating scale (NRS) pain score of greater than 3/10. Patients with missing demographic or chief complaint data were excluded. Multiple imputation was used for missing NRS pain scores. We performed descriptive analyses of opioid-treated and non-treated patients, followed by a multivariable logistic regression to identify predictors of ED opioid administration. Results: A total of 129,547 patients were studied. The mean age was 47.4 years and 55.4% were female. The median pain score was 6.6 in the no-opioid group and 8 in the opioid group. The most common pain categories were abdominal pain (23%), trauma (18.2%) and chest pain (15.3%). Overall, opioids were prescribed to 34% of patients. The most common CTAS score was CTAS 3 (44%), CTAS 1-2 42%) and CTAS 4-5 (13.9%). Multivariable predictors of opioid-use included the need for admission (adjusted OR 6.57; CI = 6.34-6.79), NRS pain score (aOR 1.24 per unit increase, CI 1.23-1.25), higher numerical CTAS score (aOR 0.89 per unit increase, CI 0.87-0.91), and chief complaints of back (aOR 7.69, CI 7.1-8.1), abdominal (aOR 5.9, CI 5.6-6.2), and flank pain (OR 3.8, CI 3.5-4). Oral opioids were prescribed in 39.8% of back pain presentations and 18.5% received IV opioids. Increasing age was a predictor but sex was not. There were significant institutional differences in opioid prescribing rates, with Hospital B being the least likely to prescribe opioids (aOR 0.82, CI 0.80-0.85) followed by Hospital C (aOR 0.83, CI 0.79-0.86) compared to the reference standard of Hospital A. Hospital D was most likely to prescribe opioids (aOR 1.32, CI 1.27-1.37). Conclusion: Predictors of ED opioid use were characterized using multicenter administrative data. Future research should seek to describe the physician- and site-level factors driving regional variation in opioid-based pain treatment.
Introduction: Canadians are the second largest consumers of prescription opioids per capita in the world. Emergency physicians tend to prescribe stronger and larger quantities of opioids, while family physicians write the most opioid prescriptions overall. These practices have been shown to precipitate future dependence, toxicity and the need for hospitalization. Despite this emerging evidence, there is a paucity of research on emergency physicians’ opioid prescribing practices in Canada. The objectives of this study were to describe our local emergency physicians’ opioid prescribing patterns both in the emergency department and upon discharge, and to explore factors that impact their prescribing decisions. Methods: Emergency physicians from two urban, adult emergency departments in St. John's, Newfoundland were anonymously surveyed using a web-based survey tool. All 42 physicians were invited to participate via email during the six-week study period and reminders were sent at weeks two and four. Results: A total of 21 participants responded to the survey. Over half of respondents (57.14%) reported that they “often” prescribe opioids for the treatment of acute pain in the emergency department, and an equal number of respondents reported doing so “sometimes” at discharge. Eighty-five percent of respondents reported most commonly prescribing intravenous morphine for acute pain in the emergency department, and over thirty-five percent reported most commonly prescribing oral morphine upon discharge. Patient age and risk of misuse were the most frequently cited factors that influenced respondents’ prescribing decisions. Only 4 of the 22 respondents reported using evidence-based guidelines to tailor their opioid prescribing practices, while an overwhelming majority (80.95%) believe there is a need for evidence-based opioid prescribing guidelines for the treatment of acute pain. Sixty percent of respondents completed additional training in safe opioid prescribing, yet less than half of respondents (42.86%) felt they could help to mitigate the opioid crisis by prescribing fewer opioids in the emergency department. Conclusion: Emergency physicians frequently prescribe opioids for the treatment of acute pain and new evidence suggests that this practice can lead to significant morbidity. While further research is needed to better understand emergency physicians’ opioid prescribing practices, our findings support the need for evidence-based guidelines for the treatment of acute pain to ensure patient safety.