Current Patterns of Prescribing and Administering Morphine in Trauma Patients

Julianne K. Whipple, Kelly S. Lewis, Edward J. Quebbeman, Michael J. Esser, Mark S. Gottlieb, David S. McKindley, Mary Hess, Bradley A. Boucher, Jon T. Jancik, Linda C. Wesley, Brian Erstad, Robert K. Ausman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


We attempted to characterize the current prescribing practices and administration patterns for intravenous intermittent morphine in trauma patients in a multicenter, open prospective, observational study. The subjects were 141 patients admitted to the surgical intensive care units (ICU) of five United States trauma centers within 12 hours of injury who received intermittent intravenous morphine for pain relief. The study was conducted from April 15, 1992, to February 15, 1993. Data obtained during the first 32 hours of the ICU stay included morphine regimen, doses administered, and time between doses. One hundred sixty‐one orders were prescribed by surgeons. The most frequently ordered dose was 2–4 mg and the most frequently ordered interval was every hour as necessary. There was no relationship between the severity of injury and the minimum dose ordered. During the 492 nursing shifts studied, 1257 doses were administered. Of these, 44% were at or below the minimum amount prescribed by the surgeons. Thirty‐three percent of the patients received a dose at an interval of more than 3 hours. We concluded that small amounts of narcotic analgesics are given to severely injured patients, and amount ordered is not affected by the severity of injury. 1995 Pharmacotherapy Publications Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-215
Number of pages6
JournalPharmacotherapy: The Journal of Human Pharmacology and Drug Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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