New Opioid Use after Invasive Mechanical Ventilation and Hospital Discharge

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2020 Aug 15;202(4):568-575. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201912-2503OC.


Rationale: Patients who receive invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV) are usually exposed to opioids as part of their sedation regimen. The rates of posthospital prescribing of opioids are unknown.Objectives: To determine the frequency of persistent posthospital opioid use among patients who received IMV.Methods: We assessed opioid-naive adults who were admitted to an ICU, received IMV, and survived at least 7 days after hospital discharge in Ontario, Canada over a 26-month period (February, 2013 through March, 2015). The primary outcome was new, persistent opioid use during the year after discharge. We assessed factors associated with persistent use by multivariable logistic regression. Patients receiving IMV were also compared with matched hospitalized patients who did not receive intensive care (non-ICU).Measurements and Main Results: Among 25,085 opioid-naive patients on IMV, 5,007 (20.0%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 19.5-20.5) filled a prescription for opioids in the 7 days after hospital discharge. During the next year, 648 (2.6%; 95% CI, 2.4-2.8) of the IMV cohort met criteria for new, persistent opioid use. The patient characteristic most strongly associated with persistent use in the IMV cohort was being a surgical (vs. medical) patient (adjusted odds ratio, 3.29; 95% CI, 2.72-3.97). The rate of persistent use was slightly higher than for matched non-ICU patients (2.6% vs. 1.5%; adjusted odds ratio, 1.37 [95% CI, 1.19-1.58]).Conclusions: A total of 20% of IMV patients received a prescription for opioids after hospital discharge, and 2.6% met criteria for persistent use, an average of 300 new persistent users per year in a population of 14 million. Receipt of surgery was the factor most strongly associated with persistent use.

Keywords: ICU; analgesics; critical care; patient outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Respiration, Artificial* / methods
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics, Opioid