Opioid Prescribing Practices by Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeons After Isolated Femur Fractures

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The purpose of this retrospective study was to identify opioid prescribing practices, determine the number of morphine milliequivalents (MMEs) prescribed by orthopaedic/nonorthopaedic members to narcotic naive and previously exposed patients, and provide narcotic prescribing recommendations.


Patients older than 18 years with an isolated femur fracture sustained between 2013 and 2015 were identified using the CPT code 27506. Prescribing information was obtained from the State Controlled Substance Monitoring Database. Descriptive analysis of MMEs was then performed. Outliers and patients without prescriptions from orthopaedic providers were excluded to eliminate skewing of data. Mean and standard deviations were then calculated for patients without a history of opiates prescribed within 1 year of injury and for patients with a history of opiates prescribed within 1 year before the injury.


Forty-five percent (40/88) of patients were opiate exposed at the time of injury. Previously exposed patients received 1491 MMEs (SD, 1044; median, 1350; range, 210–5140) and nonexposed patients received 1363 MMEs (SD, 977.2; median, 1260; range, 105–4935) from orthopaedic providers (P = 0.1473). Nonorthopedists prescribed 530 MMEs (SD, 780.7; median, 140; range, 0–3515) to previously exposed patients and 175 MMEs (SD, 393; median, 140; range, 0–1890) to patients without exposure (P < 0.0001).


Patients with prior exposure are more likely to be prescribed more opiates after femoral shaft fracture treatment. We recommend a protocol of prescribing half the mean of MMEs currently prescribed by orthopedists equating to 47 (711 MMEs) pills of oxycodone 10 mg in up to 3 prescriptions.

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