Patient and institutional factors associated with postoperative opioid prescribing after common vascular procedures

Edward D. Gifford, Kristine T. Hanson, Victor J. Davila, Warren A. Oldenburg, Jill J. Colglazier, Samuel R. Money, Albert Hakaim, William M. Stone, Houssam Farres, Elizabeth B. Habermann, Manju Kalra, Richard J. Fowl, Gustavo S. Oderich, Fahad Shuja, Thomas C. Bower, Randall R. DeMartino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: Overprescription of postoperative opioid medication is a major contributor to the opioid abuse epidemic in the United States. Research into prescribing practices has suggested that patients be limited to 7 days or <200 morphine milligram equivalents (MME) after surgical procedures. Our aim was to identify patient or institutional factors associated with increased opioid prescriptions. Methods: Opioid naive patients from an integrated health system undergoing one of nine surgical and endovascular procedures tracked within the Vascular Quality Initiative from 2015 to 2017 were identified and matched to their discharge and refill opioid prescriptions. Discharge opioid prescriptions were converted to MME. The primary outcome was discharge MME >200, and secondary outcomes were procedure-specific top-quartile opioid prescription and medication refills. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess patient and perioperative factors associated with each outcome. Results: Among 1546 opioid naive patients, 739 (48%) received a discharge opioid prescription; median MME was 0 (interquartile range, 0-150), and 349 (23%) had >200 MME. Among those with a discharge prescription, median MME was 180 (interquartile range, 150-300). MME varied by procedure (P < .001), with highest MME after suprainguinal bypass (median, 225) and infrainguinal bypass (200) and lowest MME after carotid artery stenting, carotid endarterectomy, and percutaneous peripheral vascular intervention (all medians of 0). On multivariable analysis, factors associated with MME >200 included younger patient age (<65 vs ≥ 80 years; odds ratio [OR], 3.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.9-4.6; P < .001), treating institution B vs A (OR, 3.50; 95% CI, 2.42-5.07; P < .001) and C vs A (OR, 3.90; 95% CI, 2.66-5.74; P < .001), procedure-specific top-quartile length of stay (OR, 1.45; 95% CI, 1.01-2.08; P = .047), and prior tobacco use (OR, 1.60; 95% CI, 1.07-2.37; P = .02). The same variables along with current tobacco use and lack of preoperative aspirin were associated with procedure-specific top-quartile MME at discharge. Chronic beta-blocker use was protective of top-quartile MME. Based on the observed variability, an institutional standard for opioid prescribing has been developed for standardization. Conclusions: Opioid prescriptions at discharge vary with the invasiveness of vascular surgical procedures. Less than 25% of patients receive >200 MME. Variation by center represents a lack of standardization in prescribing practices and an opportunity for further improvement based on developed guidelines. Patient factors and procedure type can alert clinicians to patients at risk of higher than recommended MME.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1347-1356.e11
JournalJournal of vascular surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Opioids
  • Prescriptions
  • Vascular Quality Initiative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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