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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Journal Article
Study

Persistent opioid use among pediatric patients after surgery.

Harbaugh CM, Lee JS, Hu HM, et al. Pediatrics. 2018;141(1):e20172439.

Opioid misuse is an urgent patient safety issue. Research has found that a significant proportion of adults prescribed opioids in the short term remain on opioid medications chronically, but less is known about postsurgical opioid use among pediatric patients. This study analyzed a large, commercial health care claims database to determine whether children and adolescents prescribed opioids following surgery were more likely to be prescribed opioids 3 to 6 months later, compared to children who did not undergo surgery. Researchers found that postoperative opioid use was associated with persistent opioid use. A related editorial raises questions about the breadth of procedures included and calls for development and implementation of evidence-based pediatric pain management strategies that address the risk for persistent opioid use and misuse.