Outpatient opioid use of burn patients: A retrospective review

Burns. 2019 Dec;45(8):1737-1742. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2019.05.019. Epub 2019 Jun 19.


Introduction: Opioid overuse is a growing patient safety issue but continue to be integral to burn pain management. This study aims to characterize opioid use in discharged patients and factors for predictive of long term use.

Methods: Participants with burns admitted to a single center from 2006 to 2015 were included. Total outpatient morphine equivalent dose (MED) was recorded at discharge and each clinic visit. Burn size, percent grafted, age, sex, and preadmission drug use were collected. For each time point, multivariate logistic regression was performed to examine the relationship of discharge MED and long-term opioid use, adjusting for age, sex, burn size, and percent grafted. MED was divided into low (0-150 mg per day), medium (151-300 mg per day), and high (greater than 301 mg) groups on day of discharge.

Results: At discharge, 366 (90%) patients received opioids. At day 14, both the medium MED (OR 2.72; CI 1.18-6.23) and high MED (OR 2.74; CI 1.02-7.37) groups had an increased risk for continued opioid use. On day 60, only the high MED group (OR 6.06; CI 1.60-22.97) had an increased risk. History of drug use was significant at 60 days (OR 7.67; 1.67-35.26) and alcohol use was significant at 14 days (OR 3.14; CI 1.25-7.93) and 30 days (OR 5.92; CI 1.81-19.36).

Conclusions: Whereas opioids are widely prescribed upon discharge, most patients no longer use them 30 days later. Higher opiate utilization at discharge increases risk of long term use, as does pre-injury drug and alcohol use, but only temporarily.

Keywords: Opioid; Opioid abuse; Outpatient care; Pain management.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Body Surface Area
  • Burns / epidemiology
  • Burns / pathology
  • Burns / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain Management
  • Patient Discharge
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Transplantation
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology


  • Analgesics, Opioid