Modifying Post-operative Opioid Stewardship Through a System of Educational Feedback

Am Surg. 2023 Dec;89(12):5175-5182. doi: 10.1177/00031348221129511. Epub 2022 Nov 23.


Background: The opioid overdose epidemic remains one of the leading focuses of the United States' public health agenda. Current literature has suggested that many surgical procedures are associated with an increased risk of chronic opioid use in the post-operative period of opioid-naïve patients. We aimed to assess whether providing feedback on the average morphine milligram equivalents (MMED) and opioid utilization by selected post-operative patients would impact the provider opioid prescribing patterns.Methods: An opioid stewardship educational intervention provided didactic and email feedback to general surgeons about their prescribing patterns and summary feedback on opioid usage among post-operative patients from the pre-intervention period. We used descriptive statistics, Chi Square, Fisher's Exact test, Wilcoxon Rank Sum, two sample t test, and Spearman's rho to analyze the data gathered.Results: A total of 5142 patients with an average age of 43.9 years were included in the study period. Women accounted for 3096 (60.2%) and 2046 (39.8%) were men. The surgeries during the study period included 1928 (37.5%) appendectomies and 3214 (62.5%) cholecystectomies. The predominant surgical approach was laparoscopic 5028 (97.8%). In both groups, the total MMED and total number of pills prescribed decreased significantly after the intervention was implemented. There were no refill prescriptions nor 30-day readmissions among those discharged with an opioid prescription in either study phase.Discussion: An intervention that provided general surgeons with feedback about their post-operative prescription patterns and data on post-operative opioid utilization by patients decreased prescribed MMED.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid* / therapeutic use
  • Feedback
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / prevention & control
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'


  • Analgesics, Opioid