In earlier work with the Michigan Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network (Michigan Open), Santosa and colleagues found that people older than 65 who were opioid naive were more likely than the 18-64 population to use opioids persistently after surgery.
That led to another question: What was the risk of fall and injuries among older patients who were prescribed opioids during surgery? The answer: The patients prescribed more opioids were more likely to fall than the others.
Santosa wondered what things looked like down the road for surgery patients prescribed opioids and if there were more significant outcomes of opioid prescribing after surgery.
“What happens with mortality? If people are falling more, this could indicate that they may have more severe outcomes after surgery with higher opioid consumption, so we should examine their mortality.”
To answer the question, Santosa and her colleagues sampled Medicare data for people 65 and older who underwent outpatient surgery between January 1, 2009 and September 30, 2015. They focused on patients who were taking opioids in the year prior to surgery and stratified them into categories of use: high, medium, low or opioid naive, based on fill history and continuity of fills.