Evaluation of Inpatient Opioid Prescribing Resulting in Outpatient Opioid Prescriptions for Previously Opioid-Naive Internal Medicine Patients

Bryce Perkins, Yvonne Huckleberry, Ivana Bogdanich, Areerut Leelathanalerk, April Huckleberry, Michaela Konecnik, David C. Miller, Morgan Bailey, Christian Bime

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Little data exist regarding inpatient opioid prescriptions as a potential contribution to the current opioid crisis. While pain management is essential to inpatient care, the ease of which opioids may be prescribed for all levels of pain may contribute to unnecessary inpatient exposure and new outpatient prescriptions. The aim of this study was to observe patterns of opioid prescribing potentially leading to new opioid prescriptions at hospital discharge for previously opioid-naive patients. Methods: This study was a single-center observational study of opioid-naïve internal medicine patients who were prescribed inpatient opioids. Patient charts were reviewed to assess the patterns of inpatient opioid and non-opioid analgesic use, new opioid prescriptions upon discharge and medical record documentation justifying the need for outpatient therapy. Results: Among the 101 patients included in this study, 71 were prescribed IV opioids and 45 were prescribed both IV and oral opioids. Non-opioid analgesics were available for 78 patients. Twenty patients were discharged with a new prescription. The mean duration of outpatient prescriptions was 3.85 +/- 1.85 days with mean morphine milligram equivalents (MME) of 44.25 +/- 22.16. Among patients receiving these outpatient prescriptions, 11 had reference to the therapy in the discharge summary. Conclusions: This observational study describes an opportunity to improve inpatient opioid prescribing practices which may reduce new prescriptions for continued outpatient therapy. Further work should focus on optimizing use of non-opioid analgesia, minimizing use of IV opioids and requiring prescribers to justify the indication for new opioid prescriptions upon hospital discharge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-183
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pharmacy Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • hospitalization
  • internal medicine
  • narcotics
  • opioid-naive
  • opioids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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