US national trends in prescription opioid use after burn injury, 2007 to 2017

Efstathia Polychronopoulou, Mukaila A. Raji, Steven E. Wolf, Yong Fang Kuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Opioid misuse and overdose in the United States remain a public health emergency. Overprescribing has been recognized as a significant contributor to the epidemic. Opioids are the mainstay for pain management after burn; however, to date, no large-scale nationally representative study has evaluated outpatient opioid prescribing practices in this population. Methods: A retrospective study was conducted of patients up to 65 years old with burn injuries between 2007 and 2017 using national commercial insurance data. The primary outcome was initial opioid prescribing after burn injury. Secondary outcomes were total days’ supply, oral daily morphine milligram equivalents, and number of refills. Results: Of the 140,753 patients with burns, 34,685 (24.6%) received an opioid prescription. The odds of prescription opioid use were lower in 2015, 2016, and 2017 compared with 2007. Interactions with age, severity (P <.0001), and region (P =.003) showed significant variation in rates of decline from 2007 to 2017, with the steepest decline in those aged <20 and in residents of Northeast United States. Prescribing rates remained stable over time among those with more severe burn injuries. The significant decline in daily opioid morphine milligram equivalents after 2013 was paralleled by an increase in days of supply (P values <.005). The odds of refill declined in 2016 and 2017. Conclusion: While opioid prescribing after burn has declined in the past decade, significant variation remains among regions and age groups, suggesting a need to develop uniform guidelines to improve the quality of opioid prescribing and pain management protocols in burn patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)952-961
Number of pages10
JournalSurgery (United States)
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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