Close up of seniors' hands holding painful knee

Orthopedic surgery patients discharged to skilled nursing facilities used opioids for twice as long as those who were discharged home, a new study finds.

The findings were revealed in a cohort study of veterans who had surgery between 2018 and 2021. Patients were not already on chronic opioid therapy and were followed by a transitional pain service.

The average time to discontinuing opioid use after surgery was 22 days in a SNF versus 11 days in home care, reported the investigators, from the University of Utah and the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City. 

“When controlling for baseline characteristics in the multivariable analysis, discharge to a skilled care facility was significantly associated with continued opioid use at all time points,” wrote Michael J. Buys, MD, and colleagues.

Postsurgical pain management guidelines are increasingly focused on the use of non-opioid pain modalities and opioid reduction, Buys and colleagues noted. “Skilled care providers should adapt those strategies for their facilities,” they concluded.

Full findings were published in JAMDA.

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