Intensive care medicine

Opioid Use in the ICU Does Not Increase Opioid Prescription Rates Later

Opioid use in the medical intensive care unit (MICU) does not lead to opioid misuse after discharge, according to findings presented at the American Thoracic Society’s 2019 International Conference.

Findings were presented by lead researcher Alyssa Chen, PharmD, from the Cleveland Clinic, on Monday, May 20.


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“In this evaluation, receiving opioids in the MICU did not impact whether patients were prescribed opioids within 1 year of discharge,” Dr Chen and colleagues concluded.

Chen and colleagues reached this conclusion after conducting a single center, retrospective cohort study of 3102 opioid-naïve patients admitted to the MICU from January 1, 2016, to December 31, 2017.

Prescription of opioids was tracked within 1 year of hospital discharge and was evaluated using Chi-square and multivariable logistic regression analyses.

Overall 1390 (45%) of participants were administered opioids in the MICU. Patients who were younger and had greater weight, height, APACHE III scores, and longer lengths of hospital stay were more likely to receive opioids in the MICU.

Results of the univariate analysis showed that patients who were exposed to opioids in the MICU had similar rates of prescription opioids within 1 year of discharge compared with unexposed patients (234 vs 273).

“On multivariate analysis, after adjusting for baseline differences in age, race, weight, and APACHE III score, the receipt of opioids in the MICU was not associated with opiate prescription within 1 year after discharge (OR 1.11, p=0.31).”

—Amanda Balbi


Chen A, Pang B, Chowdhury A, Duggal A. Use of opioids in the medical intensive care unit is not associated with outpatient opiate use. Paper presented at: ATS International Conference; May 17-22, 2019; Dallas, TX.!/5789/presentation/26085.