Importance: Prescribing practices for opioid medication after thyroid surgery have been well-studied and established; however, the need for pain management with opioid medication following lateral neck dissection for malignant thyroid disease with a short hospital stay has not been established. Objective: To evaluate a multimodal opioid reduction intervention and its association with a decrease in prescribing of opioid medication at hospital discharge for patients after a lateral neck dissection for thyroid cancer. Design, Setting, and Participants: This was a retrospective cohort study of patients treated from 2011 to 2021 by a tertiary academic institution that performs a high volume of thyroid cancer surgeries annually. We evaluated the electronic health records of 417 patients who had undergone lateral neck dissection for malignant thyroid disease from June 1, 2011, to June 30, 2021, and had a short hospital stay (≤3 days). Patients with longer stays (>3 days) or additional surgical procedures were excluded. Group 1 comprised patients who underwent a neck dissection before the intervention; and group 2, those who underwent the procedure after implementation of the intervention. Intervention: A multimodal intervention composed of 3 components to reduce opioid prescribing at hospital discharge home after neck dissection for malignant thyroid disease with a short hospital stay. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome was the quantity of opioid medication prescribed in the postoperative period, measured as oral morphine milliequivalents (MME). The eta-squared effect size (η2ES) metric was used to determine the association of the intervention with a reduction in the MME quantities of opioid medication administered to inpatients and prescribed at discharge. An estimated need for opioids was established for the average patient undergoing lateral neck dissection for thyroid cancer based on the upper range of prescribing after intervention. The data were analyzed from January to March 2022. Results: The total study population was 417 patients: group 1 with 171 patients (mean [SD] age, 47.1 [15.6] years; 104 [61%] women; 144 [84%] non-Hispanic White) and group 2 with 246 patients (mean [SD] age, 46.2 [17.4] years; 146 [60%] women; 206 [83.7%] non-Hispanic White). The median MME prescribed at discharge for group 1 per patient was 225 MME compared with 0 MME for group 2, a large effect-size difference. There was a moderate association between the dose amount administered to an inpatient and the prescription dose they received at discharge (r, 0.33). Multiple linear regression analysis of sex, age, race and ethnicity, extent of surgery, and opioid reduction intervention showed that the intervention had a large clinically meaningful association with decreasing opioid prescriptions and dosage amounts at discharge (η2ES, 0.26; 95% CI, 0.19-0.33). Conclusions and Relevance: The findings of this retrospective cohort study suggest that patients undergoing lateral neck dissections for thyroid cancer with short hospitalization needed very small amounts, if any, postoperative opioid medication for pain management. Adequate postoperative pain control was achieved using nonopioid interventions. Implementing an intervention to decrease the quantity of unnecessarily prescribed opioid medications during hospital discharge may help to reduce the risk of opioid addiction and overdose in patients after surgery..
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