Risk Factors for Opioid-Related Adverse Drug Events Among Older Adults After Hospitalization for Major Orthopedic Procedures

J Patient Saf. 2023 Oct 1;19(6):379-385. doi: 10.1097/PTS.0000000000001144.


Objectives: Older adults undergoing orthopedic procedures are commonly discharged from the hospital on opioids, but risk factors for postdischarge opioid-related adverse drug events (ORADEs) have not been previously examined. We aimed to identify risk factors for ORADEs after hospital discharge following orthopedic procedures.

Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study of a national sample of Medicare beneficiaries 65 years or older, who underwent major orthopedic surgery during hospitalization in 2016 and had an opioid fill within 2 days of discharge. We excluded beneficiaries with hospice claims and those admitted from or discharged to a facility. We used billing codes and medication claims to define potential ORADEs requiring a hospital revisit within 30 days of discharge.

Results: Among 30,514 hospitalizations with a major orthopedic procedure (89.7% arthroplasty, 5.6% treatment of fracture of dislocation, 4.7% other) and an opioid claim, a potential ORADE requiring hospital revisit occurred in 750 (2.5%). Independent risk factors included age of 80 years or older (hazard ratio [HR], 1.65; 95% confidence interval, 1.38-1.97), female sex (HR, 1.34 [1.16-1.56]), and clinical conditions, including heart failure (HR, 1.34 [1.10-1.62]), respiratory illness (HR, 1.23 [1.03-1.46]), kidney disease (HR, 1.23 [1.04-1.47]), dementia/delirium (HR, 1.63 [1.26-2.10]), anxiety disorder (HR, 1.42 [1.18-1.71]), and musculoskeletal/nervous system injuries (HR, 1.54 [1.24-1.90]). Prior opioid use, coprescribed sedating medications, and opioid prescription characteristics were not associated with ORADEs after adjustment for patient characteristics.

Conclusions: Potential ORADEs occurred in 2.5% of older adults discharged with opioids after orthopedic surgery. These risk factors can inform clinician decision making, conversations with older adults, and targeting of harm reduction strategies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analgesics, Opioid* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / prevention & control
  • Orthopedic Procedures*
  • Patient Discharge
  • Risk Factors


  • Analgesics, Opioid