Background: Few guidelines exist on safe prescription of postoperative analgesia to obese patients undergoing ambulatory surgery. This study examines the preferences of providers in the standard treatment of postoperative pain in the ambulatory setting.
Methods: Providers from five academic medical centers within a single US city were surveyed from May-September 2015. They were asked to provide their preferred postoperative analgesic routine based upon the predicted severity of pain for obese and non-obese patients. McNemar's tests for paired observations were performed to compare prescribing preferences for obese vs. non-obese patients. Fisher's exact tests were performed to compare preferences based on experience: > 15 years vs. ≤15 years in practice, and attending vs. resident physicians.
Results: A total of 452 providers responded out of a possible 695. For mild pain, 119 (26.4%) respondents prefer an opioid for obese patients vs. 140 (31.1%) for non-obese (p = 0.002); for moderate pain, 329 (72.7%) for obese patients vs. 348 (77.0%) for non-obese (p = 0.011); for severe pain, 398 (88.1%) for obese patients vs. 423 (93.6%) for non-obese (p < 0.001). Less experienced physicians are more likely to prefer an opioid for obese patients with moderate pain: 70 (62.0%) attending physicians with > 15 years in practice vs. 86 (74.5%) with ≤15 years (p = 0.047), and 177 (68.0%) attending physicians vs. 129 (83.0%) residents (p = 0.002).
Conclusions: While there is a trend to prescribe less opioid analgesics to obese patients undergoing ambulatory surgery, these medications may still be over-prescribed. Less experienced physicians reported prescribing opioids to obese patients more frequently than more experienced physicians.
Conflict of interest statement
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