Characteristics of Opioid Prescriptions by Mohs Surgeons in the Medicare Population

Dermatol Surg. 2020 Mar;46(3):335-340. doi: 10.1097/DSS.0000000000002038.


Background: Prescription opioid use often precedes opioid misuse, abuse, and addiction.

Objective: To characterize the national opioid prescription practices of Mohs surgeons, with general dermatologists serving as a comparison group.

Methods: A retrospective cross-sectional study using Medicare prescription data to analyze opioid prescription characteristics.

Results: In 2014, 2,190 Mohs surgeons prescribed a total of 86,526 opioids, whereas 10,347 non-Mohs dermatologists prescribed 45,033 opioids. Among Mohs surgeons, 51.8% prescribed more than 10 opioids, whereas 93.3% of non-Mohs dermatologists prescribed 0 to 10. The estimated opioid prescription rates for Mohs surgeons and non-Mohs dermatologists were 5.9% and 0.7%, respectively. Among those prescribing at least 10 opioid claims, the mean number of opioids supplied and mean opioid prescription rate was 72.4 and 13.5, respectively, for Mohs surgeons versus 32.5 and 5.1 , respectively, for non-Mohs dermatologists. The mean days' supply of opioids was 3.9 for Mohs surgeons versus 7.9 for non-Mohs dermatologists. There was a minimal-to-moderate association between the number of procedures performed and the number of opioids prescribed. Men and Mohs surgeons located in southern states tend to prescribe a greater number of opioids.

Conclusion: Mohs surgeons prescribed short courses of opioids and less than both the national average and providers that care for patients in pain.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicare*
  • Mohs Surgery*
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States


  • Analgesics, Opioid