Association of Decreased Postsurgical Opioid Prescribing With Patients’ Satisfaction With Surgeons


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Abstract

ImportanceOpioid overdose is the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. Several studies have shown that surgeons overprescribe opioids, and guidelines for appropriate opioid prescribing are available. Concern about patient-reported satisfaction scores may be a barrier to surgeons adopting guideline-directed prescribing.ObjectiveTo determine whether decreased opioid prescribing is associated with a decrease in patient-reported satisfaction with their surgeon.Design, Setting, and ParticipantsRetrospective analysis of clinician satisfaction scores at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center obtained in 2 periods: 1 before (period A) and 1 after (period B) an educational intervention that resulted in decreased opioid prescribing. The analysis included 11 surgeons who performed 5 common outpatient general surgical operations on 996 patients. Data were analyzed between March and August 2018.Main Outcomes and MeasuresPatient-reported overall satisfaction rating of the surgeon (scale, 0-10). This was collected by a nonstudy-related, routine general institutional survey of approximately 40% of all outpatient encounters.ResultsOf the total number of patients, 67% were women (667 of 996), and the mean patient age was 58 years. Comparing period A with B, the proportion of patients prescribed opioids decreased from 90.2% (n = 367 of 407) to 72.8% (n = 429 of 589) (P < .001). The mean number of opioid pills per prescription decreased from 28.3 to 13.3 (P < .001) and significantly decreased for each of the 11 surgeons. One hundred five of 996 patients (10.5%) undergoing index operations responded to the survey. There was no difference in the mean clinician satisfaction ratings from period A vs B (9.70 vs 9.65; P = .69). During the study periods, 640 total surveys were collected referencing these surgeons (including outpatient encounters associated with operations other than the 5 index cases). There was no difference in the mean satisfaction ratings from period A vs period B (9.55 vs 9.59; P = .62). When individual clinicians were analyzed, none had a significant difference in overall satisfaction rating from period A vs period B.Conclusions and RelevanceDespite a marked decrease in the proportion of patients receiving opioids and in the number of pills prescribed, there was no significant change in clinician satisfaction ratings.

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