Factors Associated With Opioid Prescribing for Distal Upper Extremity Fractures at a Pediatric Emergency Department

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2021 Dec 1;37(12):e1093-e1097. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000001908.


Objective: The aims of this study were to describe the prescribing patterns of oxycodone for patients with distal upper extremity fractures and to evaluate factors that influence the quantity of oxycodone prescribed at discharge.

Methods: We retrospectively studied oxycodone prescriptions for patients with upper extremity fractures presenting to a single center tertiary pediatric emergency department (ED) from June 1, 2014, to May 31, 2016. We used logistic regression models to evaluate the association of opioid administration in the ED, fracture reduction under ketamine sedation, initial pain scores (low, medium, and high), patient demographics, and type of prescriber (residents, attendings, fellows, and advanced registered nurse practitioners) with oxycodone prescription at discharge and the number of doses prescribed (≤12 or >12 doses).

Results: A total of 1185 patients met the inclusion criteria. Of these, 669 (56%) were prescribed oxycodone at discharge. Children with fractures requiring reduction had 13 times higher odds [95% confidence interval (CI), 9.45-20.12] of receiving an oxycodone prescription compared with children with fractures not requiring reduction. Opioid administration in the ED was associated with 7.5 times higher odds (95% CI, 5.41-10.51) of receiving an outpatient prescription. Children were more likely to have a higher quantity of oxycodone prescribed if they had a fracture reduction in the ED [odds ratio (OR), 1.73; 95% CI, 1.20-2.50], received an opioid in the ED (OR, 2.13; 95% CI, 1.43-3.20), or received their prescription from an emergency medicine resident (OR, 2.8; 95% CI, 1.44-5.74).

Conclusions: Opioid prescribing differs based on patient- and provider-related factors. Given the variability in prescribing patterns, changing suggested opioid prescriptions in the electronic medical record may lead to more consistent practice and therefore decrease unnecessary prescribing while still ensuring adequate outpatient analgesia.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid* / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Upper Extremity


  • Analgesics, Opioid