Ann Pharmacother. 2021 May 17:10600280211016856. doi: 10.1177/10600280211016856. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Opioids are a mainstay of therapy for patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) as part of the analgesia-first approach to sedation. Despite knowledge of acute consequences of opioid based analgosedation, less is known about the potential long-term consequences, including the effect of opioid administration in the ICU on subsequent opioid use in opioid-naïve patients.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the relationship between ICU opioid administration to opioid-naïve patients and subsequent opioid use following discharge.
METHODS: A query of the electronic medical record was performed to identify opioid-naïve adult patients admitted directly to an ICU. Patients who received continuous intravenous infusion of fentanyl, hydromorphone, or morphine were screened for inclusion into the analysis.
RESULTS: Of the 342 patients included for analysis, 164 (47.1%) received an opioid at hospital discharge. In total, 17 of the 342 patients (5.0%) became long-term users, noted to be more common in patients who received an opioid prescription at discharge (8.7% vs 1.6%; P = 0.006). Neither total ICU morphine milligram equivalent (MME) nor average daily ICU MME administration were found to correlate with daily MME prescription quantity at discharge (R2 = 0.008 and R2 = 0.03, respectively). Following control for potentially confounding variables, total ICU MME administration remained an insignificant predictor of subsequent receipt of an opioid prescription at discharge and long-term opioid use.
CONCLUSION AND RELEVANCE: This study failed to find a significant relationship between ICU opioid use in opioid-naïve patients and subsequent opioid use. These findings highlight the need to focus on transitions points between the ICU and discharge as potential opportunities to reduce inappropriate opioid continuation.