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Postpartum Opioid Prescription Rates Vary Widely by Hospital

Last Updated: December 04, 2019.

Postpartum opioid prescription rates vary widely among hospitals, according to a study published in the November issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 4, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Postpartum opioid prescription rates vary widely among hospitals, according to a study published in the November issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

Karissa B. Sanchez Traun, M.D., from Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and colleagues used electronic medical records to identify 4,248 patients who delivered at six U.S. hospitals from January 2016 through March 2016. Postpartum opioid prescriptions at the time of hospital discharge were evaluated.

The researchers found that the percentage of women prescribed postpartum opioids varied significantly by hospital, ranging from 27.6 to 70.9 percent. The most commonly prescribed medication was oxycodone-acetaminophen (50.3 percent), but each hospital had its preferred opioid type. The median number of tablets prescribed ranged from 20 to 40. Compared with multiparous women, primiparous women were more likely to receive opioids (parity of one: 52.8 percent; two: 48 percent; three: 47.6 percent; four: 40.1 percent; five or more: 45.8 percent). Among women who had vaginal deliveries, opioid prescription rates were higher for those who experienced either a second-degree laceration (35.5 percent) or a third- or fourth-degree laceration (59.3 percent).

"The variation in prescribing found in our study illustrates the need for clear consensus guidelines for postpartum pain management," the authors write.

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