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Association of Hydrocodone Schedule Change with Opioid Prescriptions Following Surgery

  • After hydrocodone was changed from a schedule III to schedule II-controlled substance, the mean OMEs filled in the initial opioid prescription increased by approximately 35 OMEs, equivalent to 7 tablets of hydrocodone.
  • Following the schedule change, an increase in OMEs was observed among patients undergoing general surgery (mean difference of 28 OME), cardiac surgery (123.3 OME), orthopedic surgery (20.5 OME), spine surgery (66 OME), and vascular surgery (47 OME).
  • After scheduling change there was an increase in initial postoperative opioid amounts among opioid-naive patients (mean difference of 16.8 OMEs) and intermittent opioid users (60.3 OME), but not among long term opioid users.

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Habbouche J, Lee J, Steiger R, et al. Association of Hydrocodone Schedule Change With Opioid Prescriptions Following Surgery [published correction appears in JAMA Surg. 2018 Dec 1;153(12):1164]. JAMA Surg. 2018;153(12):1111-1119. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2018.2651