Opioid Misuse and Dependence Screening Practices Prior to Surgery

Heather F. Thiesset, Karen C. Schliep, Sean M. Stokes, Virginia L. Valentin, Lisa H. Gren, Christina A. Porucznik, Lyen C. Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: A majority of surgical patients are prescribed opioids for pain management. Many patients have pre-existing chronic pain managed with opioids and/or opioid use disorders (OUDs), which can complicate perioperative management. Patients who use opioids prior to surgery are at increased risk of developing OUD after surgery. To date, no studies have examined the prevalence of opioid screening and electronic medical record (EMR) documentation prior to surgery. Materials and methods: A 40-item survey was administered to 268 patients at their first postoperative care visit at a single tertiary academic center from October 2017 to July 2018. A chart review of a random sample of 100 patients was performed to determine provider opioid screening prevalence in the presurgical setting. Log-binomial models were used to calculate prevalence ratios (PRs) to determine the provider role (surgeon, advanced practice clinicians [APC], surgical trainee) association with opioid screening documentation. Exploratory qualitative interviews were conducted with surgical providers to identify barriers to screening and screening documentation. Results: Only 7% of patients were screened preoperatively for opioid use. A total of 38% of patients self-reported that they had used opioids in the past year. Of that group, only 3% had screening by a surgical provider prior to surgery documented in their EMR. Provider role was not associated with likelihood of opioid screening (surgeon versus trainee, PR = 1.2, 95% CI 0.2-8.5) (surgeons versus APCs, PR = 1.05, 95% CI 0.17-8.53). EMRs were discordant with patient survey results for patients with no ICD-10 codes for opioid use. The most common perceived barriers to preoperative screening were insufficient clinic time; logistics of who should screen/not required as part of their clinical workflow; not perceiving screening as a priority; and lack of expertise in the area of chronic opioid use and OUD. Conclusions: Preoperative screening for opioid use is uncommon, and EMRs are often discordant with patient self-reported use. Efforts to increase preoperative screening will need to address barriers screening practices and increasing health system support by incorporating screening into the clinical workflow and adding it to documentation templates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-205
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc.


  • Education
  • Opioids
  • Prescribing providers
  • Screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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