Opioid-prescribing patterns, storage, handling, and disposal in postoperative pediatric urology patients

Published:February 22, 2019DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpurol.2019.02.009



      Emerging research on surgeons and the opioid epidemic have focused on the adult population. Consequently, little is known regarding opioid-prescribing practices in the pediatric population. The goal of this study is to examine postoperative opioid-prescribing and consumption patterns, as well as storage and disposal trends for specific pediatric urologic procedures.

      Study design

      Patients undergoing surgery associated with specified Current Procedural Terminology codes were retrospectively identified, and details regarding opioid medications were obtained through our pharmacy database. Patients' guardians were contacted two weeks postoperatively to determine opioid usage. Opioids were prescribed at a standard dosing of 0.1 mg/kg per dose or the equivalent.


      Of the 171 identified patients, 117 patients were successfully contacted, with 67 (39%) completing telephone surveys. The 3 most common pediatric urology procedures were inguinal hernia repair (N = 39), circumcision (N = 27), and cystoscopy (N = 16). Across all procedures, there was an average excess of 9.8 doses prescribed, corresponding to an overprescription rate of 64%. Of the patients prescribed opioids, 41 (62%) had leftover opioid medication two weeks postoperatively. Thirty-two of 41 (78%) patients did not dispose of their leftover medication. Only 13 patients received perioperative counseling on appropriate storage and disposal of opiates.


      Prescribing practices for an array of pediatric urologic procedures are non-standardized and often generously excessive. We show universal overprescribing for all our reviewed urologic procedures. Sixty-two percent of pediatric urology patients did not use their entire prescribed opiate, leaving a significant pool of medicine within the pediatric family home. Given the low incidence of perioperative education, unsurprisingly a majority of our patients improperly handled and disposed off excess opioid medication.


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