Does Physician Education and Factsheet Impact on Safe Opioid Use in Emergency Patients?

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To evaluate whether an intervention involving educating doctors and providing leaflets to patients implemented in the Emergency Department (ED) can improve patient knowledge and self-reported practices regarding safe opioid use for acute painful conditions and to investigate patterns of opioid use upon discharge from ED.


This is a prospective non-randomized controlled study. Patients ≥16 years discharged from a tertiary ED with oxycodone for acute painful conditions were recruited. They were interviewed by a single investigator within 24 hours, and subsequently 1 week following discharge. After the control arm was recruited, emergency doctors were given an education session on the safe use of opioids for acute painful conditions and asked to provide education and distribute factsheets to patients. Patient knowledge and postdischarge self-reported practices were compared in the 2 groups, and to determine the pattern of opioid use postdischarge from ED.


A total of 233 patients were recruited, 110 and 123 in control and intervention arm respectively. 60% (n = 74/123) of intervention arm patients received factsheets. Patients in the intervention group were more likely to know their recommended dosage and recall adverse effects: 56% (n = 62/110) versus 81% (n = 100/123) (P < 0.001) and 71% (n = 78/110) versus 83% (n = 102/123) (P< 0.01) respectively. Patients’ self-reported practices significantly improved (P< 0.05) regarding safe storage (OR = 15.09), driving (OR = 6.48) and co-ingestion of sedatives (OR = 16.93). 56/197 (28%) patients did not take any oxycodone following discharge.


Our intervention, which consisted of educating doctors and providing leaflets to patients, has successfully influenced clinical practice, enhancing education that doctors provided to patients and improved patient knowledge and safer opioid use post-discharge.

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