ROCHESTER, Minn. – A new patient survey conducted by Mayo shows about 1in 3 of its patients did not use opioids prescribed after a surgery.
“We found that we are over prescribing opioids and I think that I was a little alarmed when I found some of that and when we started publishing the data,” Dr. Halena Gazelka, Chair of Mayo Clinic’s Opioid Stewardship Program and author of the survey, said.
The study also finds 92% of patients take opioids home after a surgery, and 28% of those patients said they were prescribed too many opioids. Only about 8% of patients disposed of those opioids.
“Most patients keep them in their medicine cabinets or pass them off to someone else,” Dr. Gazelka said.
This could be a danger if unused opioids are in the community, and can easily be diverted, adding to the opioid epidemic the nation is facing.
Based on survey results, Mayo Clinic is changing guidelines in place to prescribe the medication. It’s already reduced opioid prescription for knee and hip surgeries in half.
“The one issue we can fix here at the Mayo Clinic is to take the best care of our patients as we can. To treat their pain…and to be certain that we are not putting opioids into the community that could be diverted or could contribute to addiction,” Dr. Gazelka said.
“I think it’s becoming a rare person or family in the United States that hasn't been touched by opioid abuse, so I’m excited about the work we're doing here. It really is fulfilling,” Dr. Gazelka said.
To help address the problem of unused prescription, Mayo Clinic is also teaming up with Olmsted County Sherriff’s Department, Olmsted County Medical Center and Zumbro Valley Medical Society to take part in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
People can safely dispose of their unused medication by dropping it off at Mayo Clinic’s Gonda Building. The event will take place on Saturday, April 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.